Comparing Interpretation Models: Simultaneous vs. Consecutive

Interpretation device with headphones

Having an interpreter at your event is a big way to set yourself apart. Especially when streaming live, you want to ensure whoever you are aiming to reach is in on the conversation as well. Which method do you choose to go with though? Comparing interpretation models: simultaneous vs. consecutive will help you gain an understanding of what will work best for you and your event.

Simultaneous Interpretation

What usually happens with simultaneous interpretation is that the interpreter will sit in a booth, wearing headphones. There is a microphone that they will speak into to translate. Generally, saying “simultaneous” is a bit of a stretch, because the interpreter needs some time to listen to what has been spoken, and appropriately translate it into the chosen language.

It being perfectly lined up with what the speaker is saying isn’t quite possible. The task of the interpreter is quite difficult, not to mention time sensitive, as they must translate, as well as listen to the next sentence to prepare to translate that too.

Often times, things do quite literally get lost in translation as not only are the words being translated, but they must be done so in the right sentence structure, with the right idioms and humour that makes sense in the chosen language. Simultaneous interpretation is a great way to get your foreign language audience into the conversation in real time. While some things do lag or are lost, the main structure of your event is conveyed and your event can reach larger audiences than without it.

Consecutive Interpretation

Quite unlike simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation is done in tandem with the speaker. The speaker will generally pause after a paragraph or natural break in their speech. The consecutive interpreter will then step in and conveys the same chunk of information to the audience in the retrospective language.

The interpreter must either have an abnormally exceptional memory or be skilled at fast note-taking, as much information can get lost if they just listen to an entire segment of a speech. The note-taking the interpreter does has to be very strategic and precise, as taking notes in one language and then quickly translating them into full sentences in another language is no easy feat.

Many interpreters of the consecutive type develop their own type of short-hand or symbolic verse which doesn’t include many words. This helps their brain quickly translate, as images and symbols are easier and faster to convert.

These two methods of interpretation are quite different, both achieving great results. It’s quite impossible for the translation to be 100% accurate, but comparing interpretation models allows you to go with the method that works best for you. Contact us for more information.