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A buyer’s guide to interpretation

When your company does business internationally, speaking your clients’ language is vital to your success. When you’re only dealing with written documents, translations are the perfect choice for communicating, but what if you have to do meetings or events in person? This is where the language barrier tends to be the most difficult to overcome, but with the help of professional interpreters, it doesn’t have to be all that troublesome.

Introduction to interpretation

When it comes to interpretation, there’s more than 1 type. And which type you go for all depends on the type of event, conference, or meeting you’re putting on. Interpretation may look easy, but it takes years of training to reach a professional standard. That’s why if you want to make sure nothing gets lost in translation, you have to invest in a team of professional interpreters.

Simultaneous interpretation

The first type of interpretation we’re going to take a look at is probably the most common type that companies like yours have to deal with. Simultaneous interpretation is the kind that you see at formal events, where the interpreters sit in special booths and speak into a microphone, which then relays what is being said in real time to attendees who are tuning in through their own headset. If more than 1 language is being interpreted at a time, attendees can normally choose their chosen language by tuning into the right frequency or channel.

Simultaneous interpretation is perfect for big meetings, conferences, events or trade shows where attendees speak a number of different languages. As the interpreters have to think on the spot, you can imagine just how tiring this gets. This is why interpreters normally work in pairs and swap with each other every 20-30 minutes to make sure they don’t slip up due to tiredness.

Interpratation equipment is also required. If you’re using a professional interpretation agency, you can hire the equipment, or if you’re doing a large number of events, you can look into buying the equipment for yourself as it might be the most cost-effective way of doing things.

Remote simultaneous interpretation

As the world of technology is advancing, so is the world of interpretation. By making the most of the latest technology, interpretation companies are able to provide interpreters at a fraction of the cost by cutting out travel times, etc. As the interpreters are able to work from home and only need an internet connection, companies don’t have to invest in interpreting equipment, either.

On the day of the event, all you’ll need in an onsite technician to make sure that the interpreters can connect without a problem, plus you’ll also need 1 laptop per room, per language. There are a couple of ways of doing things – you can either have a hybrid solution where interpreters are remote but transmitters and headsets are still used, or you can ask attendees to tune in through an app so they can hear the interpreter.

If you’re not 100% sure which type of simultaneous interpretation to go for, remote simultaneous interpreting is great if you’re looking to save on travel and equipment costs. If, however, you’re going to be in an area where the internet connection is going to be unreliable, traditional simultaneous interpretation is going to be your best bet, especially as you need a lot of WiFi for remote interpretation.

Consecutive interpretation

Unlike simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation doesn’t happen at the same time the speaker’s speaking. Instead, the speaker will normally say a couple of phrases and then pause for a break. It’s during this break that the interpreter will relay what’s being said. This type is perfect for smaller meetings and court hearings where interpreting equipment isn’t needed. All the interpreter will have to do is take notes about what’s been said so that they don’t forget by the time it’s their turn to speak.

Travel interpretation

Travel interpreters are basically multilingual travel assistants. They travel with their corporate clients to meetings and trips abroad, making sure that nothing gets lost in translation during meetings. Plus, they’ll also take on a cultural role, helping their client adapt to the culture of the place they are visiting and act as a kind of professional guide.

Whisper interpretation

Whisper interpretation has many similarities to simultaneous interpretation, but instead of speaking into a headset, they’ll whisper what’s being said to the client. This kind is only really suitable for tiny meetings where one person doesn’t speak the language as having to whisper to more than 1 person will disturb the others.

Telephone interpretation

This type of interpretation can be either be simultaneous or consecutive, but there’s one difference – it’s done over the phone. If the attendees are OK with hearing just the interpreter, then it can be done simultaneously, but if they want to hear both the speaker and the interpreter, then it’ll be done consecutively. The quality of telephone interpretation is sometimes a tiny bit lower than that of on-site interpretation as the interpreter isn’t always able to pick up on content or hand signals/gestures.

You can also have telephone interpretation where a company calls up an interpretation agency, selects a language pair, and is then automatically transferred to an interpreter. This isn’t recommended from a quality perspective, though, as the interpreter has very little time to prepare. This form is normally used for doctor’s appointments or school meetings.

We hope we’ve given you an insight into the world of interpretation. We understand that all these different types can be a bit much to understand, so if you’d like some advice about which type you need, please feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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