Interpreting establishes oral communication between two or more speakers who are not speaking the same language. There are four main types of interpreting:

  • Simultaneous interpreting
  • Whispered interpreting
  • Consecutive interpreting
  • Ad hoc interpreting

In simultaneous interpreting (a.k.a. conference interpreting), the interpreter will speak at the same time as the source-text speaker. Usually, the interpreter sits in a sound-proof booth with a clear view of the speaker, listening through headphones to the incoming message in the source language. The interpreter repeats the message in the target language, speaking via microphone to the target audience. For each language you will need two interpreters, who work in shifts of 30 minutes each to ensure full concentration throughout a long session.

If there is just one single person requiring interpreting, a common practice is to use whispered interpreting or chuchotage. Here, the interpreter stays next to the target person and speaks the interpretation directly to him/her in a low voice. Whenever possible, mobile equipment should be used, providing interpreter and listener with headphones and interconnected receivers. All other persons right next to the interpreter will be able to hear the interpretation, and the room must be quiet for the interpreter to carry out the job.

In consecutive interpreting the source-text speaker and the interpreter take alternate turns in speaking. Usually, the interpreter sits at a table with the speakers, listening to the spoken source language and taking notes as the speech progresses. When the speaker has finished or comes to a pause, the interpreter takes over. He then reproduces (consecutively) the message in the target language and in its entirety as though he was making the original speech. This implies that a session with interpreting will last for twice the usual time and a longer speech will have to be interrupted several times. A good interpreter is capable of repeating 10-15 minutes of a speech, with the help of a special note taking technique.

Ad hoc interpreting is mostly used in negotiations, at trade fairs and in public services. Most often ad hoc interpretation is consecutive and limited to a few sentences at a time. This again implies that the time needed will roughly double.

Collaboration between interpreter and client: a qualified interpreter offers you reliability, language knowledge, specialist preparation and professional attitude. In order to carry out the assignment to the best of his or her abilities, the interpreter needs an appropiate preparation time before the assignment as well as all necessary information to familiarize him-/herself with the field. 


Translation is the written reproduction of a text in another language. Translations are not carried out word by word, but convey the meaning of the text. The use of computer-aided translation (CAT) tools garantees a consistent translation of all documents throughout all phases of a long-term project. However, different documents need different approaches: a marketing text, e.g., should be translated as idiomatic as possible, whereas official documents are bound by norms and have to appear true to the original. Another important factor for a good translation is the translator's knowledge of the speciality.


Collaboration between translator and client: The translator offers specialist knowledge in the required field, on-time delivery and confidentiality. A translator needs an appropriate time frame to carry out the assignment to the best of his/her capabilities. Generally, the daily capacity of a translator is 2,500 words. Before an assignment is accepted, the document needs to be seen in order to evaluate the complexity and required specialities. A specialisation in engineering can be limited to certain subareas, because not every translator will cover all areas. A client should clearly express requirements with respect to: usage of company slang; the target group; whether previous translations need to be considered for consistency; and potentially decide on reference materials.

In general the client should be aware that a text does not have one possible translation but several. Different translators would not translate the same text identically, because each language is alive and changes constantly.




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