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The Difference between Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpretation simply explained

7 Jun 2019 Igloos

To every language practitioner especially in translation industry, the words consecutive and simultaneous interpretation are almost in the finger tips. The two words however are sometimes used inappropriately when it comes to professional practice. One for instance may be in need of Simultaneous interpretation but ends us requesting for Consecutive interpretation which at times causes confusion and embarrassment if proper guidance is not given. It is therefore up to the service provider to provide appropriate guidance to the prospective client.

In this short article, I shall be looking at the underlying difference between the two interpretation types respectively.

Simultaneous interpretation is a type of interpretation where the interpreter translates what is being said in real time. Here, the interpretation occurs at the same time as the speaker relays his message. It is the case that while the speaker conveys his/her message, the interpreter is also doing their job at the same time. Just as the word states, the interpretation is done as the speaker relays his message. This type of interpretation requires a specialized skill, agility on the part of the interpreter and keen attention to whatever is being said by the speaker. It also requires the interpreter to have strong comprehension skills and he/she must be familiar with the industry terminology. Simultaneous interpretation usually occurs in meetings or conferences where more than one language is used and in most cases occurs in meetings with a large number of participants. This type of interpretation also requires use of special interpretation equipment to aid the interpretation process. The equipment includes Sound proof booths, receivers, headsets, mikes, among others.

Consecutive Interpretation on the other hand is a form of interpretation where the interpreter translates soon as the speaker has conveyed his message. Interpretation here occurs in a sequence where the speaker is expected to pause and allow room for interpretation to be done. This type of interpretation usually happens in smaller conferences such as dinner parties, introduction parties, and small business meetings, Churches, among others. This form of interpretation does not require use of any special interpretation equipment but rather having good sitting arrangement to allow the interpreter better access to the team they are interpreting to. Besides, it requires keen attention on the part of the interpreter. Just like Simultaneous interpretation, it requires that the interpreter be familiar with the industry terminology for better interpretation to be done.

It is therefore indicative that both Simultaneous and Consecutive interpretation requires a certain form of skill, experience, and familiarity with the respective industry terminology. In any of the forms, there is no room for mistakes as any form pf mistake makes the entire activity faulty and inappropriate hence the need for Professional Interpreters.

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