Although most language work is lumped into the category of ‘translation’, there are some definite differences between translation work versus interpretation.
Translation: written rendering of a message from one language (source language) into another (target language).
Interpretation: oral rendering of speech from a source language into a target language while preserving the full meaning of the source message.
Modes of Interpretation:
- Simultaneous interpretation: The interpreter renders the interpretation into the target language continuously, at the same time as the speaker delivers his speech in the source language, just a few “units of meaning”, behind the speaker. The time lag between the moment when the speaker utters an idea and the interpreter interprets the same unit of information is called decalage. Simultaneous interpreting is delivered by either using special equipment that allows the recipient of the interpreted message to listen only to the interpreter and tune out the source speech or by whispering. The industry term for whispering is chuchotage.
- Consecutive interpretation: The interpreter orally translates a statement made by the speaker after the speaker stops talking. The process follows a sequence: first interlocutor > interpreter > second interlocutor > interpreter > first interlocutor > interpreter, etc. Only one person should be speaking at a time.
- Sight translation is a cross-over between translation and interpretation. The interpreter reads (not out loud) a written document in one language and instantaneously translates it orally into another language.
1. Interpretation in Legal Settings:
The primary reasons for providing language interpreters for court proceedings are:
- To place non-English-speaking participants in legal proceedings on an equal footing with those who understand English to the extent reasonably possible
- To ensure that the official record of the proceedings in English reflects precisely what was stated in another language by non-English-speaking witnesses, defendants, or other parties authorized to participate in the matter
Legal interpreters follow strict standards, scrupulously preserving the register, paralinguistic elements and style of the original speech. “The goal of court interpreting is to produce a legal equivalent a linguistically true and legally appropriate interpretation of statements spoken or read in court, from the second language into English and vice versa. The interpreter is required to render the linguistic and paralinguistic elements of a discourse, including all of the pauses, hedges, self-corrections, hesitations, and emotion as they are conveyed through tone of voice, word choice, and intonation.” [Fundamentals of Court Interpretation] In courts, interpreters are barred from explaining, elaborating, or clarifying.
Certified Court Interpreters are those who successfully passed a certification exam. Passing rate: below 10%.
2. Healthcare Interpreting
Interpreting that takes place in health-care settings of any sort, including doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, home health visits, mental health clinics, and public health presentations. Typically the interpretation occurs during an interview or an encounter between a health-care provider (doctor, nurse, lab technician) and a patient (or the patient and one or more family members.) [National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care]
Medical interpreters mostly work in the consecutive mode. A healthcare interpreter is considered to be a member of a treating team, and, as such, has quite unique obligations. In addition to being a language conduit, the interpreter may also assume a role of a clarifier, cultural broker, and even of a patient’s advocate.
3. Conference Interpreting:
Language services performed to facilitate communication among speakers of various languages attending a meeting or a conference. Conference interpreters work in consecutive and simultaneous modalities.