Monthly Archives: October 2014

Consecutive or Simultaneous Interpretation: When and Why?

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A few weeks ago AZ World Translation and Interpretation was asked to provide a proposal for interpreting at a one day work shop. The client requested consecutive interpretation which is when the speaker speaks one to three sentences and then stops and waits for the interpreter to repeat those sentences in the target language.

We replied that we would not provide a quote for a full day workshop using consecutive interpretation because it was not the right way of doing it. For a training session like this one, it is best to use simultaneous interpretation.  Simultaneous interpretation is when the interpreter is only one sentence behind the speaker and the interpreter and speaker are speaking at the same time without interruptions.  Usually there is an interpretation booth and the interpreters could even be outside the room, with the audience listening over headsets.  However for a small group of 3 as in this case it can be done by whispering.

The client asked us why we wouldn’t go with consecutive interpretation; despite it being a cheaper option, and our answer was that it was not right to do consecutive. The best way of explaining it is what that it simply wasn’t the right tool for the job.  Though it could have worked, it just didn’t fit the situation. Simultaneous interpretation was first used during the Nuremberg Trials and has since been the proper way of interpreting conferences and AZ World is always looking ahead, not behind.

To summarize:

  • Consecutive works great for a Q/A period and simultaneous interpretation works better for a conference, presentation, training session, etc.
  • Translators and interpreters/translations agencies have the duty of keeping our clients updated on progress in the translation and interpretation world and should pass the benefits of progress to our clients.