Interpretation: What are you talking about?

by | Jun 24, 2019 | Language, Translation

Not all interpretation and translation is delivered in the same way and there is a distinct separation with what each of these types of linguists can deliver. Interpreters are linguists who deal in the spoken word while translators handle written forms of communication (although an ‘interpretation’ can, unhelpfully, also be a more liberal written translation style). The discipline can be further sub-divided by the kind of interpreting necessary; we’ll break this down below:

Consecutive Interpreting: 

This is more of a ‘stop/start’ style of interpreting where the speaker will pause to allow interpreters to relay what has just been said to their clients, using notes. This is generally used in the court setting when the service user has a significant role, for example the accused or a witness.

Simultaneous/Whisper Interpreting:

This is direct interpreting where the linguist will relay the previous sentence while simultaneously listening to the next. This has the benefit of being much faster than consecutive interpreting and is often used in health contexts, for example when relaying a medical condition to a service user who is not comfortable

Phone/Video Interpreting:

This can facilitate communication with a service user in a foreign language when qualified linguists aren’t immediately available in the flesh. This can follow either a consecutive or simultaneous format, depending on the needs of the situation.

Public sector and legislation: why is professional interpretation important? 

Public bodies are obliged under the Equality and Diversity Act 2010 to ‘increase equality of opportunity’ and to tackle discrimination based on race and disability (amongst other protected characteristics). Research has also shown that communications are improved when a professional, trained and registered interpreter is called to assist in communicating. The cases of Iqbal Begum (R. v Iqbal Begum (1991) 93 Criminal appeal Reports 96), and Victoria Climbié (see the Laming Report, 2003) are two examples with the latter being a strikingly chilling example of the hugely important role interpreters can have when deployed properly. Interpreters can:

  • be the alter ego of each speaker in turn
  • put each speaker on the same footing as they would be on if they had a common language
  • have the same effect on the service user as the original speaker intended
  • relay information as fully and faithfully as possible, in the same register

This is essential in many cases involving service users who do not have English as a first language, which can include vulnerable persons, refugees and asylum seekers, but also forms a part of councils’ obligations towards disabled people. Providing British Sign Language interpreters and offering alternative document formats (for example, Braille) are another important part of councils’ obligations to open up their services for everyone, irrespective of any additional needs.

Want to know more? 

My Language Connection is young and always has an eye case to our future growth and development as a forward-thinking agency. This gives us the ability to respond in more agile ways than our larger competitors can. With 400+ linguists in our ever-expanding network with infinite language combinations, recruitment strategies targeting uncommon languages just as much as widely spoken ones and a contactable and accountable customer service-driven structure, we stand ready to assist councils and service users in need of interpreters.

You can contact us for a quote here or you can call us on 0330 058 0251 to discuss your interpreting needs in more detail.

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