By definition, interpreting enables groups of individuals who do not speak the same language to communicate with each other for the purpose of sharing information. Most organisations would agree that with global expansion comes the need to communicate in a greater number of languages. Time-sensitive and complex subjects are often better discussed verbally, which is where interpreting comes in, making for effective conversations in different languages.
Although the practice of interpreting has been in existence as long as man has used spoken word, the first written evidence comes from the ancient Egyptians, who used a “hieroglyphic signifying interpreter” in 3000 BC. It is widely accepted that after this time, it was the slaves and prisoners of the Romans and the ancient Greeks who used interpretation, as they were made to learn the language of their captors so that they could report to their owners and interpret for the nobility.
These days, there are different ways to facilitate interpretation based on the situation. Face-to-face interpreting takes place on-site and can be carried out simultaneously or consecutively. Simultaneous interpreting involves the interpretation of the source language into the target language at a continuous, live rate; it is most universally used within the UN. The linguist uses a soundproof booth and a microphone, whilst the listener uses earphones to hear the interpretation. In consecutive interpreting, the linguist waits for the speaker to finish speaking before relaying the message back to the listener. These methods are particularly beneficial for large-scale events, for example conventions where there will be an international audience.
Over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) can take place via any telephone with a built-in-speaker, through dual-handset lines, or via conference calling. OPI also allows room for flexibility in case scheduled meetings need to be shuffled around, making it highly convenient, and is ideally suited to inbound and outbound call centres. Organisations that need to hold meetings at short notice, or want to save money, tend to favour this method. For example, if an urgent discussion needs to take place and there is not enough time to arrange for a physical meeting, this cost-effective method is the quickest way to make this happen.
Video interpreting provides sign language interpreting from a remote location. This service can often be booked at short notice; what’s more, the overall costs are reduced, as linguists will not have travel expenses.
Regardless of which of these options businesses choose, it is important that the technology and equipment used be of the highest quality, so that the desired message is received with clarity and without any significant delay.