What types of interpreting are there?

Các hình thức phiên dịch

Interpreting is a special type of translation that requires the language to be translated directly (live translation) instead of having time to search, look up and select words. Those who perform the task of interpreting are called Interpreters. The word interpreting is also understood as session-based translation, which means that when a person has just finished speaking, the interpreter will conduct a verbal translation into the target language.

What types of interpreting are there?

#1. Consecutive interpreting (Vietnamese: dịch đuổi, dich tuần tự)

Consecutive interpreting (CI) is the most popular type of interpreting today. In this form, interpreters will start interpreting when the speaker pauses.

The interpreting process can be segmented into short or long period depending on the interpreters’ skills and/or the nature of the session. For short segment interpretation, interpreters often rely on memory to do their job. As such, the interpreting process is performed sequentially and seamlessly, which is suitable for conversations or interactions. In long segment interpretation, interpreters have to take notes (notes, shorthand). The notes basically have their own standards, but in general, they still have a specific and familiar character for each interpreter. They will need to take notes clearly in their own words so that when they read back it will be fluent and accurate.

Notes for consecutive interpreting:

  • Long segment interpretation will often be more accurate than short ones because interpreters have more extensive information.
  • Segmentation and speed can be agreed in advance between the speaker and the interpreter.
  • There are gestures and body signs to help the speaker and the interpreter understand each other better, helping the interpreting to go well.
  • Interpreters may also consider having visual translations (documents, slides, etc.)
  • Traditionally, the interpreter will sit or stand next to the speaker.
  • Consecutive interpreting can be done face-to-face, over the phone or online.
  • Time may be extended up to 2 times normal.

Practical application of consecutive interpreting

  • Interpreting for trainers in training courses
  • Interviewing candidates and patients by phone or in person
  • Adjudication activities in arbitration or judicial courts
  • Contract negotiations or regular meetings

#2. Simultaneous interpretation (Vietnamese: dịch song song/dịch cabin)

Simultaneous interpretation (SI) is where the speaker speaks and then the interpreter interprets almost simultaneously. The speaker will not be interrupted and can deliver his or her talk seamlessly.

In practice, simultaneous interpretations require at least two interpreters to work together. They will perform their work in professional cabins so this type is also known as cabin interpreting. The interpreters will use a headset and focus on listening and interpreting immediately through a microphone to transmit to speakers or headphones for each audience. The interpreters will change alternately and work together until the end.

Cabin interpreting is a stressful job, requiring the interpreters to have proficient skills and excellent language and understanding. They may also need to access and study the materials before proceeding with their work many days in advance to explore and learn the knowledge and new words and terms contained therein.

Notes for simultaneous interpreting

  • Interpreters need to work well together to make the interpreting session run continuously with the highest quality
  • It is possible to use tools to assist in the interpreting process such as interpreting device.
  • Interpreters will sit in closed technical cabins, listen with headphones and communicate through microphones.
  • Listeners will normally use headphones or listen from the center speaker.
  • The interpreting process can be performed at the same time in multiple languages with different teams of interpreters.

Practical application of simultaneous interpreting

  • Interpreting in large meetings and seminars in meeting rooms (for example, United Nations council meetings).
  • Interpreting in talks with a large audience
  • Interpreting in large conferences of businesses
  • Seminars, specialized meetings in multiple languages.
  • In the great courts.
  • Online meeting using remote simultaneous interpretation technology

#3. Whispered interpreting (Vietnamese: Phiên dịch thầm)

Whispered interpreting is a form of simultaneous interpreting, where the only difference is that the interpreter will interpret by whispering into the listener’s ear without the support of technological devices such as microphones or headphones. This type is applied at large meetings, in courts or when only a few people need to know the content to follow the proceedings.

Choose the right type of interpreting

Customers seek interpreting services for many reasons: meetings, seminars, training programs, proceedings, etc. In an event, as long as the participants do not speak the same language, the presence of an interpreter will be essential.

Interpreters may not be able to fully interpret word for word from the original content, but there is one element they must ensure in all cases: it is accuracy. Each language has its own way of expressing the same message. An excellent interpreter needs to be able to understand the context of the event he/she is working in, analyze the level of formality and personality expressed in the speaker’s words, so as to adjust the language and grammar for correctness.

Although they share some characteristics, in fact, there are many different types of interpreting, suitable for each specific situation and purpose.

Understanding what situations you need an interpreter for, for what purpose, and understanding the basics of different types of interpretation will help you find the “right person” for the “right job.”