Translation and Interpretation

How to practice interpretation

Essay, 2008
5 Pages, Grade: 1


Interpretation is of two types: simultaneous and consecutive. The term ‘simultaneous interpretation’ is self-explanatory. In it, the interpreter speaks simultaneously, translating to the target language while listening to the original message in the source language. In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter listens to chunks of the message in the original language and interprets at intervals. For this, the interpreter may either take notes (in notations or short forms) so that long passages may be interpreted accurately, or may rely on memory to interpret shorter messages.

In a practical context, consecutive interpretation takes place when the interpreter does not have all of the text, but a good portion of it. The information that the interpreter delivers may not be complete, but it has the power to stand alone, if necessary. The most important usage of consecutive interpretation is when rendering speeches, court witness testimonies, job interviews, training activities, press conferences or even jokes. In such cases, it is recommended, sometimes necessary even, that the idea is complete before it is interpreted.

Consecutive interpretation may be considered the classic form of interpretation and has many advantages. The first obvious advantage of consecutive interpretation is that it does not require the equipments that simultaneous interpreters need. Simultaneous interpretation requires sound proof booths, microphones, headphones and interpreter consoles. High overhead costs are avoided in consecutive interpretation.

Secondly, simultaneous interpretation is very demanding, so any job that exceeds 20 minutes of interpretation duties requires the services of an additional interpreter. In case of longer assignments, two interpreters alternate with their tasks so that the workload is reduced and shared between the two. So, except in situations where simultaneous interpretation is necessary (like large conferences or meetings), consecutive interpretation is most suited.

In consecutive interpretation, listeners can wait for natural pauses in the body of the text. In simultaneous interpretation, there are minimal chances of omission of facts because interpreters do not have to commit too much to their memory. However, since the interpreter has not yet heard the entire speech, there may be certain shortcomings or messages being quoted slightly out of their context. In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter already has the main gist of the message. Therefore, the interpreter may be able to adapt the translation to its proper context more suitably. The interpreter pays attention to larger chunks of messages and the message may be reformulated according to the context. In this case, interpreters not only have to understand the languages, they also need to remember the entire gist of the message. This is where the ability to make notes become important. Since the interpreter does not have to pay attention to listening to each sentence and interpreting it line by line, they can pay more attention to processing the text and reformulating the message. Thus, a message that is interpreted in this way is more listener-friendly. It is not monotonous and may contain references that have more appeal to the listener. The interpreter has more flexibility and may tailor the message to suit the cultural context, if necessary.

How to practice interpretation

There follow certain ideas, which aim to maximize the benefits gained from time spent practising interpreting. These ideas are based on very straightforward pedagogical principles and a certain amount of common sense. The structures suggested also show the value of time spent not interpreting. Too often we simply go into the booth and interpret, engaging in no other practice activity, or analysis of our work, unaware of the fact that the skills that go to make up interpreting can be practised in isolation.


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Translation and Interpretation
How to practice interpretation
University of Vienna
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ISBN (eBook)
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408 KB
translation, interpretation
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Katharina Eder (Author), 2008, Translation and Interpretation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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