Interpreting, or interpretation, is the process of facilitating communication, either simultaneously or consecutively.

Despite being frequently confused, interpretation and translation are not the same. Interpreting takes something from a source language and changes the message into a different language. In interpreting, the interpreter will take a sometimes complex concept from one language, and use the most appropriate vocabulary in the target language to faithfully transfer the message in a linguistically, emotionally, tonally, and culturally equivalent. Translation on the other hand is the transference of meaning from text to text, with the translator having time and access to resources.

A common misconception of interpretation is that it is rendered verbatim, as a word-for-word translation. A literal interpretation would often make no sense because of grammatical and cultural differences. For example, the Spanish phrase: Está de viaje, translated to English becomes Is of voyage, which is meaningless, whereas the actual meaning "you are out of town". In court interpretation, it is not acceptable to omit anything, no matter how fast someone talks, as accuracy is not just essential, but mandatory. The alteration of even a single word could mislead the jury or members of the court.

Translating allows time to consider and revise each word and sentence before delivering the final text, but interpreting demands skill, experience and an intimate knowledge of both languages. Further, if a word is used for which there is no exact match, explanation may be necessary in order to fully interpret the intended meaning of the word. Another unique situation is when an interpreted phrase or sentence seems significantly shorter or longer than the original. This can occur due to differences between languages when sometimes information can require more or fewer words and time to provide the same information. Because of situations like these, interpreting often requires a delay. This allows the interpreter to take in subjects and verbs in order to rearrange grammar appropriately while picking accurate vocabulary before starting the message.

Interpreting can be simultaneous or consecutive. In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter changes speech to the target-language as quickly as possible, while the relevant person is speaking. An interpreter frequently sits in a sound-proof booth, using a microphone to provide the interpretation, while seeing and hearing the speaker via headphones. The simultaneous interpretation is provided to the via their own earphone. Although it has been in use for centuries, one of the first major recorded uses of simultaneous interpretation was at the Nuremberg Trials, with four official languages.

In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker. Speech speech is divided into parts, and the interpreter sits or stands close to the speaker, listening and taking notes. When the speech pauses or stops, the interpreter then gives that part of the message in the target language. Frequently, the interpreter has to rely on memory, as the individual parts of a speech may be brief. With longer passages, the interpreter makes notes on paper to use when providing the text. Consecutively-interpreted speeches, or parts, are usually short. Ten or so minutes is considered too long, as audiences do not want to sit through this length of time listening to something they cannot understand. Sentence-by-sentence interpreting may mean the interpreter has problems, because they have not heard the entire speech and the lack of context makes it difficult. Therefore this method tends to be used more in connection with recorded statements, court witness testimony, and in medical situations.

Legal, or Court Interpreting, occurs in courts of justice, administrative tribunals, and wherever legal proceedings are held (such as interviews in police stations). Legal interpreting can be the consecutive interpretation of witnesses' testimony or the simultaneous interpretation of the entire proceedings for one person, or all of the people attending. The right to a competent interpreter for anyone who does not understand the language of the court is considered a fundamental rule of justice. Court interpreters usually work alone when interpreting consecutively, or as a team, when interpreting simultaneously. In addition to thorough knowledge of the relevant languages, court interpreters also need a good working knowledge of the law and legal and court procedures. Anne Lee has been interpreting in courts and police stations throughout the UK for many years and is fully qualified for any legal interpreting and translation work.

Adapted from the Wikipedia article.

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