Modes of Interpretation

Wednesday 07 January 2015

Interpretation is not merely a matter of translation for people talking to each other in different languages.  During the act of interpretation several things have to take place. These include an understanding of the culture as well as the act of listening and hearing in order to impartially interpret the meaning intended, all instantaneously, to allow very fast decisions to be made.

From a source language, an interpreter conveys the message into a different target language.  Complex concepts may be conveyed using suitable vocabulary in the target language to replicate the message as faithfully as possible in a linguistically, emotionally, tonally, and culturally equivalent message. 

As you might expect, interpretation can be performed in a number of ways. Each way is known as a mode. There are five modes of interpretation which are discussed below. Choosing which mode to use during an interpretation will depend upon the nature and circumstance of each case where interpretation is required.

The 5 modes of interpretation

  1. Consecutive interpreting 
    The source language speaker delivers segments of the message at a time, the interpreter listens to each segment and in the pauses between each one, delivers the message in the target language.
  2. Whispered interpreting 
    When only a few members of the target audience require interpretation, the interpreter sits or stands next to them and whispers a simultaneous interpretation.
  3. Simultaneous/ Conference interpreting 
    For larger meetings and conferences, a simultaneous interpreter sits in a sound proof booth and wears earphones to listen to the source language speaker. The simultaneous interpreter then speaks at the same time as the speaker, formulating the message as quickly as possible as soon as they have heard it.  The simultaneous interpreter speaks into a microphone to deliver the message to the audience who listen to the message via earphones.
  4. Relay interpreting
    When several target languages need to be interpreted, relay interpreting is used. A source language interpreter interprets the message into a language that all of the interpreters understand. The interpreters then render the message to each of their respective target languages. A source message for example might first be rendered into English to a group of interpreters, who listen to the English and then render the message into their respective target languages. 

    Where there is a meeting with very many target languages, more than one ‘intermediate’ language is often used, i.e., a Japanese source language could be interpreted into English and at the same time directly into French and then from the English and French into yet more languages.  This mode is most often seen in the meetings of the EU institutions which are heavily multilingual.
  5. Liaison interpreting
    Liaison interpreting is when what is spoken to one person, is then relayed to two or many people. This is often done after a short speech or sentence-by-sentence, or as chuchotage (whispering). Liaison interpreting uses no equipment other than notes taken at the time.

R L Translations supplies trained interpreters in any language within the UK and abroad. We have extensive experience and can provide interpreters for small meetings or large conferences alike or for work in courts, prisons, hospitals, social services and other public institutions.  Each of our interpreters is supplied with specialist knowledge of the subject area.

Many of our interpreters are listed on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) or hold a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) and are required to abide by strict rules of confidentiality.

For further information visit our website or contact us for a free quotation.