1. What is interpreting? Interpreting deals exclusively with oral communication: naturally and fluently rendering a message from one language into another. This is done by adopting the delivery, tone and convictions of the speaker, not by translating every word they utter, but by conveying the ideas which they express. There are different kinds of interpreting. The two major modes of interpreting are consecutive and simultaneous. Remote consecutive interpreting is a kind of consecutive interpreting. Whispering, simultaneous interpreting outside the booth with a tour-guide system and remote simultaneous interpreting are different kinds of simultaneous interpreting. For functional purposes, interpreting is categorised into conference and community interpreting.
2. What is conference interpreting? Conference interpreting is consecutive or simultaneous interpreting which is practiced at high-level or diplomatic meetings, international multilingual events, seminars and conferences. Conference interpreting is provided by highly qualified and experienced conference interpreters who have special training in the field of interpreting. Conference interpreters are often accredited by highly respected international institutions.
3. What is a conference interpreter? A conference interpreter is a highly qualified professional interpreter with complete mastery of the different consecutive and simultaneous interpreting techniques and methodologies, and is able to provide professional interpreting services for multilingual and other types of meetings. A conference interpreter may also work as a community interpreter.
4. What is community interpreting? Community interpreting (mostly consecutive, sometimes whispering) is used in hospitals, police stations, courtrooms and other public settings with the aim of facilitating communication with immigrants and foreign citizens. Community interpreting may also be provided by non-professional interpreters.
5. Can community interpreters work as conference interpreters? There are cases when community interpreters work as conference interpreters. However, when choosing community interpreters to work as conference interpreters, the client should be aware of certain differences in the interpreters’ qualifications and experience, which may result in an inferior quality of service.
6. Can translators work as conference interpreters? There are cases when translators work as interpreters (and vice-versa) although translation and interpreting are thoroughly different and each requires totally different skills and abilities. The only thing in common between translation and interpreting is that they both require an excellent command of a foreign language and continual improvement of one’s language skills.
7. Who can practice interpreting or translation in Lithuania? There is no law in the Republic of Lithuania regulating the practice of interpreting or translation. Consequently, even unqualified individuals may work as interpreters or translators provided they obtain the appropriate business licence; no documents are needed to verify an individual’s qualifications as an interpreter or translator.
8. How to become an accredited interpreter in Lithuania? There is no procedure for accrediting conference interpreters in Lithuania. This is why accreditation by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and accreditation by the European Union institutions is sometimes taken as proof of professional quality.
9. Does the Association offer accreditation to its members? The Lithuanian Association of Conference Interpreters (LKVA in Lithuanian) does not require passing an accreditation test to become a member of the Association. In short, there are no conference interpreters accredited by the Association. However, aspiring members of the Association must meet rigid eligibility requirements in terms of quality and professional ethics. In addition, they should be able to produce at least two letters of recommendation signed by current members who can personally vouch for their suitability as professional conference interpreters and for their professional conduct. In this way the Association ensures that all its members are true professionals. Moreover, a considerable number of our members have been accredited by major international institutions.
10. What is consecutive interpreting? In consecutive interpreting, the speaker and the interpreter take it in turns to speak. The interpreter waits for the speaker to finish a sentence or an idea and then renders the speaker’s words into the target language. The interpreter sits with the delegates, listens to the speech and then renders it into a different language, generally with the aid of interpreter notes. Experienced professional interpreters can render speeches ranging from 6–8 minutes with great accuracy. Depending on the duration of a meeting, consecutive interpreting requires one or two interpreters who take it in turns to speak.
Advantages: Consecutive interpreting requires no special interpretation equipment.
Disadvantages: Consecutive interpreting prolongs the meeting (by up to 70% of the allocated time). Delegates who understand the original language are forced to listen to the consecutive interpretation of the original speech.
11. What is simultaneous interpreting? In simultaneous interpreting, speech is transmitted through a headset to an interpreter who renders the message into a microphone almost simultaneously. The interpreter is usually one or two sentences behind the speaker. For simultaneous interpreting, interpreters work in soundproof booths and use special simultaneous interpretation equipment. They convey the message of whoever is speaking by using a special console equipped with a microphone. Attendees at the event select the relevant channel to hear the interpretation in the language of their choice.
Simultaneous interpreting is practiced at multilingual events, conferences and seminars that involve a large number of speakers and participants. Simultaneous interpreting requires at least two interpreters. Whispering and simultaneous interpreting outside the booth with a tour-guide system are also considered to be simultaneous interpreting. Thus, the number of interpreters required and duration of time spent interpreting is the same as booth-based simultaneous interpreting.
Advantages: Simultaneous interpreting saves time as it does not require the speaker to pause. Only delegates who do not understand the original speech listen to simultaneous interpreting through headsets. The same speech can be simultaneously interpreted into a multitude of languages at the same time.
Disadvantages: simultaneous interpreting requires special interpretation equipment.
12. What is whispering? Whispering is a kind of interpreting where the interpreter simultaneously interprets directly into the ear of the delegate without using any special interpretation equipment. Sometimes the whispering interpreter uses a headphone in order to hear the speaker better. Whispering, just like simultaneous interpreting, requires two interpreters. In exceptional cases, such as when the speaker and the interpreter are constantly on the move, and when the duration of interpreting does not exceed 60 minutes, whispering can be done by one interpreter.
Advantages: Whispering is often used instead of consecutive interpreting in order to save time and even instead of simultaneous interpreting in order to avoid the use of simultaneous interpretation equipment. Whispering is the best choice when consecutive or simultaneous interpreting is impossible or inconvenient due to the specific format of a meeting, protocol requirements or logistical considerations.
Disadvantages: Whispered interpreting can only be used for one or two delegates sitting or standing in close proximity. There is no sound isolation and no possibility to adjust the sound either for the speaker or the interpreter. Moreover, it puts a strain on the interpreter’s vocal cords and interpreters are more prone to agitation and distraction from background noise. All of this may tell negatively on the quality of interpreting and on the interpreter’s health.
The Association recommends choosing whispering only in exceptional cases.
13. What is simultaneous interpreting outside the booth (with a tour-guide system)? This is a form of simultaneous interpreting that requires portable simultaneous interpretation equipment. The interpreter uses a wireless audio transmitter/receiver with a microphone and the delegate uses a receiver with a headphone. This kind of simultaneous interpreting is practiced in situations where simultaneous interpreting is needed, but there is no opportunity to use professional simultaneous interpretation equipment (e.g. during guided tours, state dinners, etc.).
Advantages: Larger groups of delegates can benefit from interpreting with a tour-guide system compared to whispered interpreting.
Disadvantages: There is no sound isolation which means that the interpreter may disturb other delegates (who do not need interpreting). The ambient noise makes the work of the interpreter harder. The interpreter must position themselves close to the speaker. If the speaker speaks too softly, the interpreter may not be able to hear everything they are saying and will therefore be unable to accurately interpret their speech. The tour-guide system is based on radio frequency devices and in some locations radio-frequency interference is possible. This kind of interpreting is not suitable for multilingual events. The working conditions are more demanding for the interpreter, which may tell negatively on the quality of interpreting and on the interpreter’s health.
Where possible, the Association and professional suppliers of simultaneous interpretation equipment recommend using regular simultaneous interpreting services and professional simultaneous interpretation equipment rather than simultaneous interpreting with a tour-guide system.
14. What is remote interpreting? Some situations require video and audio conferencing equipment because the delegates and the interpreters are located in different premises, cities or even countries. Remote interpreting can be done using both the simultaneous and consecutive method.
15. How is interpreting performed at meetings where more than two languages are used? Some interpreters have an excellent command of several languages. However, interpreters usually work via a common language to all the other interpreters at a meeting rather than working directly from the original speaker. In this case, they interpret between two languages via a third (relay interpreting). The relay interpreter listens to the source language speaker and renders the message into a language common to all the other interpreters, who then render the message into their target language groups.
In Lithuania, the Lithuanian language is normally used as the common language for interpreters doing a relay. In EU institutions and in some EU Member States, interpreters normally interpret only into their mother tongue. In Lithuania, however, interpreters also work by interpreting from their mother tongue into a foreign language. They sit in the English, French, German, Russian or some other booth, and relay the source language via the Lithuanian language. The message they render into Lithuanian is then interpreted into a foreign language by their colleagues sitting in other booths. Relay interpreting must be exceptionally high quality and requires highly qualified interpreters because interpreting via a third language increases the risk of error, loss of information and falling out of sync with the original speaker. See also Point 20.
16. Why does simultaneous interpreting require at least two conference interpreters? Simultaneous interpreting requires unique cognitive skills and exceptional concentration. It is a highly demanding activity in which the interpreter listens, memorises, analyses, anticipates, chooses the optimal interpreting strategy, interprets and listens to their own delivery – all at the same time! It has been established that several brain regions (the caudate nucleus and the putamen), which are only activated under extreme conditions, are active during the process of simultaneous interpreting. Until now, simultaneous interpreting has proven an insurmountable challenge for even the most powerful computers in the world. Simultaneous interpreting requires enormous endurance and constant vigilance. As a result, interpreters experience a significant degree of physiological stress. Depending on the speaker and the complexity of the speech, it becomes difficult to sustain a high level of interpreting after 20 or 30 minutes. Conference interpreters therefore take it in turns of about 20 to 30 minutes to interpret. International institutions employ three (or more) interpreters to work in a booth.
17. Why should interpreters be provided with the relevant speeches and documents in advance? Interpreters can provide a better quality service when they have the chance to acquaint themselves with the topic beforehand and familiarise themselves with any related terminology and jargon.
18. What are the requirements for interpretation equipment? Both booths and simultaneous interpretation equipment should conform to ISO 2603 1998 (mobile equipment) or ISO 4043 1998 (fixed equipment) standards. In the case of teleconferences, videoconferences and other meetings that follow a similar format and require remote interpreting, interpreters should be provided with three screens: one showing the meeting room, another showing whoever is currently speaking and a third showing the screen on which any visual material is projected. ISDN broadcast requires 125-12,500 Hz frequency. (http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=1763)
For more information on interpretation equipment please see here.
19. Where to find professional interpreters and solutions to interpreting-related matters? For more information on multilingual interpreting teams, please contact members of the Lithuanian Association of Conference Interpreters (LKVA).
20. Why is it important to hire qualified and experienced interpreters for your meeting? The quality of interpreting often determines the overall success of a meeting. The target audience pays more attention to the interpreter than the speaker. The interpreter, therefore, plays the role of an “invisible” mediator by conveying the ideas of the speaker through adopting their tone and convictions. Good interpreting gives the audience the impression that they are listening to the original speaker.