Interpreting versus Translation
Despite being used interchangeably, interpretation and translation are not synonymous, but refer, respectively, to the spoken and written transference of meaning between two languages. Interpreting occurs in real time, in the presence — physical, televised, or telephonic — of the parties for whom the interpreter renders an interpretation. Translation is the transference of meaning from text to text (written, recorded, sign), with the translator having time and access to resources (dictionaries, glossaries, etc.) to produce a faithful, true, and accurate document or verbal artifact. A very common, layman's misconception of interpretation is that it is rendered verbatim, that is, as a word-for-word syntactic translation of an utterance. That is impractical, because a literal, verbatim interpretation of a source-language message would be unintelligible to the target-language listener. For example, the Spanish phrase: Está de viaje, rendered verbatim to English translates as: Is of voyage (senseless in English), yet its faithful, true, and accurate denotational and connotational interpretations in context are: ‘He/She/You is/are travelling’ or ‘He/She/You is/are out of town’. That is, the overall meaning, tone, and style in the target language are what matter, rather than the source-language syntax. Interpretation is also held to a different standard of accuracy than translation. Translators have time to consider and revise each word and sentence before delivering their product to the client. While interpreters try to achieve total accuracy at all times, details of the original (source) speech can be omitted from the interpretation into the target language, especially if the source speaker talks very quickly, or recites long lists of figures without a pause. The trained professional simultaneous interpreter however never omits original source language, rather they learn to provide the same information in the target language. For example, when interpreting English to Spanish, they may shorten the interpretation rendered with gender specific usage and reflexive pronouns not used in English. In court interpretation, it is not acceptable to omit anything from the source, no matter how fast the source speaks, since not only is accuracy a principal canon for interpreters, but mandatory. The alteration of even a single word in a material way can totally mislead the triers of fact. The most important factor for this level of accuracy is the use of a team of two or more interpreters during a lengthy process, with one actively interpreting and the second monitoring for greater accuracy. Speakers at interpreted meetings can ensure better communication of their message into other languages by slowing their delivery slightly and by adding a pause of one or two seconds at the end of each paragraph.
Modes of Interpreting
Interpretation is usually rendered in one of several modes: In simultaneous interpreting (SI), the interpreter immediately speaks the message in the target-language whilst listening to it in the source language. Consecutive interpretation is rendered as 'short CI' and 'long CI'. In short CI, the interpreter relies on memory; each message segment being brief enough to memorise. In long CI, the interpreter takes notes of the message to aid rendering long passages. These informal divisions are established with the client before the interpretation is effected, depending upon the subject, its complexity, and the purpose of the interpretation. On occasion, document sight translation is required of the interpreter, usually in consecutive interpretation work. Sight translation combines interpretation and translation; the interpreter must read aloud the source-language document to the target-language as if it were written in the target language. Sight translation occurs usually, but not exclusively, in judicial and medical work. Relay interpretation occurs when several languages are the target-language. A source-language interpreter renders the message to a language common to every interpreter, who then renders the message to his or her specific target-language. For example, a Japanese source message first is rendered to English to a group of interpreters, then it is rendered to Arabic, French, and Russian, the other target-languages.
a) Simultaneous interpreting
In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter renders the message in the target-language as quickly as he or she can formulate it from the source language, while the source-language speaker continuously speaks; sitting in a sound-proof booth, the SI interpreter speaks into a microphone, while clearly seeing and hearing the source-language speaker via earphones. The simultaneous interpretation is rendered to the target-language listeners via their earphones. Moreover, SI is the common mode used by sign language interpreters. NOTE: Laymen often incorrectly describe SI and the SI interpreter as 'simultaneous translation' and as the 'simultaneous translator', ignoring the definite distinction between interpretation and translation.
b) Whispered interpreting
In whispered interpreting (chuchotage, in French), the interpreter sits or stands next to the small target-language audience whilst whispering a simultaneous interpretation of the matter to hand; this method requires no equipment. Chuchotage is used in circumstances where the majority of a group speaks the source language, and a minority (ideally no more than three persons) do not speak it.
c) Consecutive interpreting
The CI interpreter Patricia Stöcklin renders Klaus Bednarz's speech to Garry Kasparov. The CI interpreter Patricia Stöcklintakes notes Garry Kasparov's speech. The CI interpreter Patricia Stöcklin renders Garry Kasparov's speech to the audience. In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker has finished speaking. The speech is divided into segments, and the CI interpreter sits or stands beside the source-language speaker, listening and taking notes as the speaker progresses through the message. When the speaker pauses or finishes speaking, the interpreter then renders the entire message in the target language. Consecutively-interpreted speeches, or segments of them, tend to be short. Fifty years ago, the CI interpreter would render speeches of 20 or 30 minutes; today, 10 or 15 minutes is considered too long, particularly since audiences don't like to sit through 20 minutes of speech they cannot understand. Often, if not previously advised, the source-language speaker is unaware that he or she may speak more than a single sentence before the CI interpretation is rendered and might stop after each sentence to await its target-language rendering. Sometimes, however, depending upon the setting or subject matter, and upon the interpreter's capacity to memorize, the interpreter may ask the speaker to pause after each sentence or after each clause; sentence-by-sentence interpreting requires less memorization and therefore lower likelihood for omissions, yet its disadvantage is in the interpreter's not having heard the entire speech or its gist, and the overall message is sometimes harder to render both because of lack of context and because of interrupted delivery (e.g., imagine a joke told in bits and pieces, with breaks for translation in between). This method is often used in rendering speeches, depositions, recorded statements, court witness testimony, and medical and job interviews, but it is usually best to complete a whole idea before it is interpreted. Full (i.e., unbroken) consecutive interpreting of whole thoughts allows for the full meaning of the source-language message to be understood before the interpreter renders it in the target language. This affords a truer, more accurate, and more accessible interpretation than does simultaneous interpretation.
d) Liaison interpreting
Liaison interpreting involves relaying what is spoken to one, between two, or among many people. This can be done after a short speech, or consecutively, sentence-by-sentence, or as chuchotage (whispering); aside from note taken then, no equipment is used.