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Consecutive Interpretation

Articles on Interpretation

Consecutive Interpretation

What is a consecutive interpreter?

When using the services of a consecutive interpreter the speaker regularly pauses, enabling the interpreter to render his translation. Usually the speaker pauses after every sentence or phrase. Although this is a time consuming procedure, it can lead to a higher degree of correctness and completeness in the translation, since a consecutive interpreter gets more time to do his work than a simultaneous interpreter. A consecutive interpreter will also not easily see a need to 'compress' the translation, something that does often happen in simultaneous interpreting.

When do I need a consecutive interpreter?

The need for a consecutive interpreter will seldom occur, since in most situations where you would need a consecutive interpreter, you might use a simultaneous interpreter instead. But there can be circumstances that will cause you to have an absolute preference for a consecutive interpreter. For instance, if there is only one speaker who will be speaking in a different language, or if there is no equipment for simultaneous interpretation available.

Some examples...

How many interpreters do I need?

Generally the use of 1 consecutive interpreter will suffice. Some interpreters consider it less strenuous work than simultaneous interpretation (although the opinions on this subject seem to differ...), which has a positive effect on the endurance of the interpreter.

Are there different kinds of consecutive interpreters?

Not really. Some distinguish between regular interpreting and conversation interpreting, but the work is essentially the same. (Except for those cases where the interpretation of a conversation is done simultaneously, of course.)

To be complete in our description, we should also mention the tourism interpreter or accompanying interpreter, for if they should be called an interpreter at all, then they qualify more as a consecutive interpreter than as a simultaneous interpreter. But in fact, the tourism or accompanying interpreter has an even easier job than a real consecutive interpreter: usually he will accompany or guide a trip or excursion and renders a previously written story in a language other than the local language. There is no interpreting aspect until people from a mixed company start asking him questions and he has to not only answer, but also translate them. Some have to render their story in more than one language, which makes the work more complicated. A good example are the people with the microphone on canal excursion boats in Amsterdam, although they are usually called 'guides'.


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