The goal of interpreting is for two or more people to understand each other in a live situation.
The difference with translation can simply be described as follows: Translation is written, interpreting is spoken. Translators translate, and interpreters interpret. Interpreters charge by the day (especially in conference and business interpreting) or the hour (especially in community and legal interpreting).
Interpretation can be simultaneous (generally from a soundproof booth), consecutive (with the interpreter positioned on the podium with the speaker or near the listeners) or whispering (with the interpreter seated next to one or at most two listeners).
Types of interpreting situations
Conference interpreting takes place at international conferences and formal meetings, with interpreters working in pairs in booths, or consecutive interpreting for speeches and press conferences. European Works Council meetings of companies with more than two languages generally require conference interpreting.
Business interpreting takes place at smaller or less formal meetings, factory visits, exhibitions, product launches, etc. The interpreter may whisper, use a tour guide system, or interpret consecutively.
Legal interpreting is used by the police, courts, probation service, solicitors, at arbitrations and tribunals, etc. Interpreters specialised in legal interpreting generally have a law degree or qualification, a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting, or both. Many public services now require their interpreters to be registered on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI).
Community interpreting involves interpreting for people who live in the UK but do not speak English very well. It is generally used by the NHS, local governments, ngo’s, and at community events. Interpreters specialised in community interpreting tend to be second-generation speakers of UK minority languages who have a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting. Many public services now require their interpreters to be registered on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI).
Administrative interpreting is mainly used by the authorities.
How to commission interpreting
The Institute of Translation and Interpreting has a database with accredited interpreters. It can be accessed here http://www.iti.org.uk free of charge.
Marjolein Turner-Prins offers conference and business interpreting on a per contract basis for English/Dutch and Dutch/English and for English/Flemish or Flemish/English.
When commissioning interpreting, you should brief the interpreter as fully as possible about the nature of the job, including the location, duration, subject and parties involved. Hand out print-outs of any presentations or speeches to the interpreters well before they start, so they will be able to read them through beforehand.
When travel and overnight stays are involved, this will be charged separately from the interpreters’ daily rate.
Interpreting is physically exhausting and all interpreters require periodic breaks. For conference and business interpreting, you should plan to have two interpreters per language combination. Arrangements for refreshments should be made.
Interpreting adds time to any lecture, speech or negotiation. For consecutive interpreting, this is typically double. When speaking with simultaneous or whispered interpretation, try not to go too fast, especially when you are in a hurry. If the interpreter needs to keep pace and speaks fast too, this will mean that the listeners will need to “listen fast”, which can be tiring after a while.