The term ‘interpretation‘ has become a part of our daily lexicon. A lot of us use the word within the mundane kinetics of our everyday lives. But, like every syllable that humans utter, the term ‘interpretation’ is loaded with nuances, historical significance, and socio-economic relevance.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines interpretation as the “action of explaining the meaning of something; the way something is explained or understood.” Well, the definition seems like a tongue twister of ‘somethings.’ Nonetheless, the underlying implication is that interpretation is the assignment of meaning to the symbols of a formal language.

Interpreting a language has broader connotations that encapsulate sign, spoken, and written speeches and the foundational ‘rule’ is the preservation and registration of the meaning of the source language content.

We can, therefore, understand interpretation as the spoken or signed language communication between speakers of diverse languages. A language interpreter or a signed language interpreter’s objective is to interpret the meaning of a text carefully and transfer the original text’s tone, intent, and motivation within the targeted or interpreted language.

According to the interpretive planner and trainer John A. Veverka, the most articulate and apt definition of interpretation is propounded by a Canada Interpretation task force. The description is, “Interpretation is a communication process, designed to reveal meanings and relationships of our cultural and natural heritage, through involvement with objects, artifacts, landscapes and sites.”

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The Veritable Importance of Interpretation

The 21st century is characterized by linguistic inclusivity. The movement to embrace regional languages in business, pop culture, virtual media, education, etc., has gained unprecedented prominence.

English is no longer the unrivaled vocabulary in professional setups. People from diverse linguistic backgrounds expect representation and negotiation to communicate and extract communication with ease.

Thus, interpretation has a significant role in this revolutionary tangent that will only strengthen in the future.

  1. Interpretation has enormous importance in businesses. People speaking different languages can attend a business meeting, especially if it is a zoom meeting. Thus, error-free interpretation from professionals is a great way to ensure swift and amenable communication between people.
  2. Business negotiations become so much easier with interpretation. A cross-cultural professional to and fro is best handled by an interpreter who can convey the meanings and facilitate the cultural nuances between the two parties.
  3. We can safely assert that quality interpretation simplifies communication in a diverse setting, whether professional or otherwise. Interpretation can accommodate the different languages spoken by delegates in businesses or organizations.
  4. Language transcends words and encompasses socio-cultural, ethnic, and religious intricacies that may be invisible to the naked eye of a layperson. Trained interpreters help familiarize people of different backgrounds with the cultural nuances of one another. Accurate interpretation also facilitates the process of translation. The demand for interpreters is at an all-time high.
  5. The covid19 pandemic has further concretized the importance of interpretation services. The WHO releases new information about the coronavirus almost every day. But, some people who live in harsh conditions do not have access to vital information. Therefore, interpretation helps in the language-related gaps between the haves and the have-nots.

    If you are looking for a top-notch interpreter, make sure to opt for a professional who has a degree or credible certification in the subject of interpretation. Moreover, while contacting an agency for interpretation services, ensure that they have prior experience in your business niche.

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Types of Interpretation

The primal essence of interpretation is conveying information from a source language into a target language. This relay of knowledge can be achieved in multiple ways and depend upon the needs of the speakers and listeners.

  • Simultaneous Interpretation – In this interpretation, the interpreter listens to spoken content through headphones and speaks the interpreted words into a microphone. As soon as the interpreter grasps the general meaning of the statement, they begin their interpretation process. Simultaneous interpretation can be easily seen in award shows and beauty pageants. Interestingly, the first use of simultaneous interpretation using electronic pieces of equipment was a part of the Nuremberg Trials.
  • Consecutive Interpretation – In consecutive interpretation, the speaker speaks for a while and then pauses for five minutes or so. The interpreter takes notes within the paused time and then forwards the communication. A crucial skill required in consecutive interpretation is note-taking.
  • Whispered Interpretation – It is a variant of simultaneous interpretation, which entails the interpreter addressing a small target language audience by whispering a simultaneous interpretation. This type of interpretation is viable when a few audience members do not speak the source language.
  • Relay Interpretation – Similar to a relay race, relay interpretation involves a small number of participants. A source-language interpreter transfers the message to a group of interpreters who speak the source and the different target languages. After that, these interpreters convey or ‘relay’ the message to their respective audiences. For instance, an English text is interpreted in Hindi by a group of interpreters, who then interpret it into Kannada, Bengali, etc., to their respective clientele.
  • Liaison Interpretation – Alternately known as escort interpreting, liaison interpretation depends upon an interpreter who translates into and out of the source and target languages while the conversation is going on. This interpretation type is suitable for small and informal situations.

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Interpretation and Translation – The Difference

Although interpretation and translation are used interchangeably many times, they have stark differences that we need to acknowledge.

  • The fundamental difference is that interpretation deals with spoken language in real-time, whereas translation is text-based.
  • The delivery of interpretation happens on the spot. It is spontaneous communication that may occur in person, over the phone, or via video calls. The translation is a long-term process that may take months to complete.
  • Moreover, the accuracy requirement in interpretation is lower as compared to translation. The real-time dynamic associated with interpretation compels some slippages in meanings and context. Translation, on the contrary, is spot on when it comes to accuracy, as the translated document is a physical entity that can be edited and revised.
  • Another crucial difference between interpretation and translation is the direction. Interpreters must be phenomenally fluent in both the source language and the target language, whereas translators typically work unidirectionally into their mother tongue.

If we step aside from the differences, a common challenge that both interpreters and translators face is making metaphors, analogies, and idioms resonate with the target audience.

Interpreters and translators are mandated to capture the tone, inflections, and motivation of their source document, which is, to be honest, quite a daunting task. Nonetheless, relaying verbal cues is essential for interpreters, and spontaneity makes them apart from usual translators.

In case you are looking for an interpreter, choose someone with ample experience. You can also look for credible certification and specialization. When dealing with an agency that provides interpretation services, transparent policies, accommodative practices, and open communication are a few of the vital qualities that you ought to be looking for. Lastly, make sure to do background research before finalizing on any agency or service provider.