- Simultaneous or Real-Time Interpretation
- Legal Interpretation
- Consecutive Interpretation
Simultaneous or Real-Time Interpretation
Have you ever been to a live event and noticed a booth tucked in a corner of the room? You see two people inside the booth, with their headset and microphone on. They take turns talking, seemingly parroting the speaker on the stage, throughout the event.
You have just witnessed simultaneous interpreters at work.
“… during simultaneous interpretation, the brain performs three concurrent mental operations: it perceives and processes current fragments of the message in the original language, stores previously heard information in memory, and, finally, generates an equivalent message in the target language. ”
How the human brain works during simultaneous interpretation
“The process required an extraordinary blend of sensory, motor and cognitive skills, all of which had to operate in unison.”
“Executing it required versatility and nuance beyond the reach of the most powerful computers. ”
The amazing brains of the real-time interpreters
Sounds difficult? Well, it is, if without training, exercise, and the right set of skills.
In any type of interpretation, we look for Accuracy and Coverage. 100% of what the speaker says needs to be interpreted (Coverage), and to its fullest meaning and intent (Accuracy). This is true in all forms of interpretation. However, in Simultaneous Interpretation, there is also Speed.
The speed goes hand in hand with Coverage. Some languages are simply more “lengthy” than others: it takes more words to convey the same message. This is especially pronounced when a word with a newly generated meaning in one language is introduced into another language: think “app”, “cloud”, even “internet” in English, into “yun yong cheng xu”(4 words), “yun pan”(2 words) and “hu lian wang” (3 words) in Chinese.
If you do not have the speed to keep up with the wagon, you will be left in the dust of missed words. Some may think that the speed loss can be compensated by summarizing. Would you forgo a 2-hour thriller and be satisfied with its 2-minute trailer?
I am privileged to have done simultaneous interpretation for clients from many industries, including manufacturing, technology, business services, health care, entertainment, direct marketing, food and services, and non-profit organizations.
The solemness of a courtroom, the complexity of the justice system, highly specialized and legal terminology, and on top of all these, a foreign language.
Legal Interpretation is compromised of simultaneous, consecutive and sight interpretation. I am contracted with the Florida Court as a Mandarin interpreter, and have interpreted for both Florida courts and private parties in civil and criminal proceedings.
Interpretation is not verbatim. It is to get the meanings across from the speaker to the receiver. But in legal interpretation, there is an independent set of rules. Understanding a legal interpreter’s roles and his/her responsibilities would require on-going training and practices. I have interpreted at various legal procedures including depositions, hearings, mediations and trials in both criminal and civil cases.
This is what most interpreters do and what most people think interpretation is about.
When done well, an interpreter is “invisible” in consecutive interpretation. Dialogues continue as if the two parties were speaking the same language.
When circumstances call for it, a good interpreter must jump out to curate or clarify things that may sound confusing in another language. We may call it “job security” for human interpreters. Google Translate cannot read a person’s expressions nor detect hesitation, confusion, or doubt.
Human interpreters can. At least for now 🙂