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is a term used to describe the oral translation of the spoken word from one language into another. While translators work on the translation of a text in the comfort of their home office, can think about the best translation for each term as long as necessary and use a wide variety of dictionaries and on-line resources to come up with the best translation, interpreters have neither the luxury of time nor generally that of dictionaries to lend them any help. Interpreters have to be very skilled, fully bilingual individuals that can very quickly and correctly render what is being said into the other language. They have to have the intelligence and mental agility to be able to deal with whatever is thrown at them – as far as terminology, speed or accent is concerned. Not every translator is a good interpreter and certainly not every bilingual person is good at or even capable of interpreting between two parties. Ideally the two parties talking to each other should be able to forget that they are even speaking different languages since the interpreter is the link that provides instantaneous understanding of what is just being said in a foreign language. There are different types of interpreting styles – each best suited for different situations:

Simultaneous Interpretation
is usually provided for larger meetings or groups with participants from various countries. The equipment needed for simultaneous interpretation varies from portable equipment used, for example, for factory tours, to sound-proof booths for big international conferences on subjects, that often are of a highly technical nature. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the original speaker – faithfully transferring what is being said into the other language in the most idiomatically correct way. Normally two interpreters are required for such an assignment, since it is a mentally tiring activity and interpreters will switch every 20 minutes or so. If the subject matter is very technical the interpreters will require material or, if possible, copies of the presentations beforehand, to familiarize themselves with the subject and the vocabulary in both languages. Given the fact that simultaneous interpretation is usually done for bigger groups and involves quite sophisticated equipment, you will find it a relatively costly proposition.

Consecutive Interpretation
is usually used for short presentations, tours, visits, receptions, negotiations, interviews and legal depositions. Such a job can generally be taken on by just one interpreter – if it does not last too long. Typically the interpreter will take notes on what is being said. After a few sentences or minutes the speaker pauses and gives the interpreter an opportunity to translate what has been said. This can be awkward, if there are only a few foreign speakers in a large group, since the whole group usually has to listen to the interpretation.

Escort Interpretation
denotes any kind of interpreting situation where the interpreter offers his or her linguistic skills to help you communicate without using any kind of equipment. The interpreter might accompany you on a trade show visit or on a tour of some factory and even help you with reservations and other organizational tasks.

Telephone Interpretation
makes use of three-way-calling to get you, your English-speaking business contact and the interpreter on the line at the same time to facilitate an otherwise tedious conversation. It saves you having to travel to speak to your contact in person and it is much more direct and immediate than having to write a letter, have it translated and wait for the answer.


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