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Dr. Graciela D´ Adamo Ph.D.
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Translations and Interpreting Services
  What is Interpreting?
Interpreting or interpretation is the intellectual activity that consists of facilitating oral or sign language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two or among three or more speakers who are not speaking, or signing, the same language.

Note that the words interpreting and interpretation both can be used to refer to this activity, the word interpreting is commonly used in the profession.

The word interpreter refers to the practitioner who orally translates for parties conversing in different languages or in sign language. Interpreters must convey not only all elements of meaning, but also the intentions and feelings of the original, source language speaker. In fact, the end result is an intermediate stage of spoken communication, which aims to allowing target language listeners to hear, perceive, and experience the message in a way that is as close as possible to the experience of those who understand the original, source language.

Modes of interpreting

There are two modes of interpretation: Simultaneous (while the utterance is spoke) and Consecutive (immediately after the utterance is spoken).

Simultaneous interpreting

In such situations, the interpretation occurs while the source language speaker speaks, as quickly as the interpreter can formulate the spoken message to the target language. Simultaneous interpretation is used in various situations such as business conferences, graduation ceremonies, any situation where there is not pause between each statement allowing time for the interpreter to relay information to the interpreter. For example, at international conferences and at the UN, simultaneous interpretation is effected while the interpreter sits in a sound-proof booth, speaking into a microphone, and usually with a clear view of the source language speaker, while listening with earphones to the speaker's source language message. The interpreter then relays the message in the target language into the microphone to the target language listeners who wear headsets, listening to the interpretation occur at the same time the speaker speaks. Simultaneous interpreting also is the most common mode used by sign language interpreters as there is no audible language interference while both languages are being expressed simultaneously.

Simultaneous interpreting sometimes is incorrectly referred to as "simultaneous translation" and the interpreter as the "translator".

Whispered interpreting

In whispered interpretation (a.k.a. chuchotage interpretation after the French word for the same), the interpreter sits or stands next to the small intended audience, whispering a simultaneous interpretation of the matter at hand; this method requires no equipment. Chuchotage interpretation often is used in circumstances where the majority of a group speaks one language, and a minority (ideally no more than three persons) do not speak that language.

Consecutive interpreting

In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter speaks after the source-language, -text speaker has finished speaking; the speech may be divided into sections. Normally, the interpreter sits or stands beside the speaker, listening and taking notes as the speaker progresses. When the speaker finishes speaking or pauses, the interpreter consecutively renders the message in the target language, in its entirety, as though he or she were making the original speech.

Frequently, an experienced consecutive interpreter prefers interpreting phrase by phrase, or shorter sentence portions, so as to approximate simultaneous interpretation. This method requires that the speaker pause between phrases and clauses to permit the interpreter to instantly render each portion of the speech into the target language, without having to take time to take notes and without risking forgetting details of the speech. The phrase-by-phrase method frequently is used in settings such as speeches before an audience, legal depositions, recorded statements, while interpreting for a witness in a court hearing or a trial, etcetera. It is also used in community interpreted dialogues, such as medical, job interviews, etc.

Consecutive interpretation allows the full meaning to be understood before the interpreter renders the message into the target language.

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