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Setting | Delivery Style

One who orally translates a spoken message.

Interpreting is different from interpretation in that the former is the act of orally translating spoken words into another language, while the latter pertains more to a literary perspective where a person conveys his or her own meaning and understanding.

Interpreting can be categorized into setting and delivery style.


Court | Community | Conference | Telephone

Court Interpreting: a type of interpreting defined by the context in which it occurs. Although usually taking place in the courtroom, court interpreters also are needed in other legal settings such as police stations or prisons. Court interpreting normally implements consecutive interpreting, but also sometimes simultaneous interpreting or sight translation.

Community interpreting: provides a public service in helping those people who do not speak the majority language of the community to communicate effectively. These opportunities occur in police, school, health care, and community service agency environments, are usually one-on-one interactions as well as bi-directional. The encounters were once performed by untrained bilingual individuals but now are gaining professional prestige.

Conference Interpreting: usually employs simultaneous and consecutive techniques in interpreting for international conferences or other high-profile meetings and conferences, and mediating between the speaker and the audience. In conference interpreting knowledge of languages is interpreted into three categories: the A languages are those in which the language professional has a native-fluency and can work from and into, the B languages are those at almost a native level which interpreters are expected to be able to interpret into, and the C languages are those which interpreters can only interpret from.

Telephone Interpreting: This is a relatively new field that was
established nearly 30 years ago as a community service. As
communication is rapidly growing more technologically advanced, modern
telephone interpreting has become a vital tool in the interpreting
industry. The skilled telephone interpreter would not only have
extraordinary language fluency, but also presumably special
communicative talent. Learning faster and more efficient ways of
thought organization and expression is especially crucial for a telephone interpreter. The ultimate goal of an interpreter in communicating an idea is to allow the language to be unnoticed in a direct stream of thought. Accuracy and objectivity are important to all types of interpreters. However, these goals are even more difficult for the telephone interpreter because the other parties are not visible to each other. Because of this lack of visibility, the interpreter has to rely on voice tone-the only nonverbal element that can be captured. The
ability to be sensitive to many cultural backgrounds and dialects is
also important in telephone interpreting, but it has to be done
with exceptional quickness and consistency.

Delivery Style

Consecutive Interpreting: after listening to a segment of a speech averaging from 5-6 minutes in length and sometimes taking notes, the speaker pauses as the interpreter renders the statement in the target language, and then the speaker resumes.
Simultaneous interpreting: sitting in a booth setting and using headphones and a microphone to reformulate and render the speech at the same time that it is being given. Because the nature of the task is cognitively intensive, the interpreters usually work in 20-30 minute shifts.

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© 2001 Ola Furmanek, Laura Wray, Jonathan Crosson