Konrad (2004: 2) stated that interpretation is a tool for communication that helps in coordinating verbal and sign language as the communication takes place. This is usually aimed at facilitating comprehension in people with various disabilities. In addition, interpretation is also used to translate information in a different language from one used by the speaker, whereby the interpreter repeats words in another language after the main speaker has spoken in order to facilitate inclusive comprehension. These forms of interpretation are known as simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpreting respectively. An interpreter is required to make communication easy by converting the register and tone of the chief speaker into a form that is familiar to the audience with a lot of accuracy.
As indicated by Aranda (2007: 35), simultaneous interpretation is whereby the speaker and interpreter talk concurrently. On the other hand, consecutive interpretation involves the interpreter taking notes as the speaker speaks, then reads out the interpreted version after the speaker has completed a sentence, paragraph or entire presentation. However, these breaks are determined by the nature of the message and the agreement between the speaker and interpreter. Consecutive interpretation is therefore only possible in some fields. It gives more accurate information because the interpreter does not need to memorize a lot of content (Aranda 2007: 35).
However, the periodic interruptions affect content delivery and subsequently affect the concentration of the audience. Nevertheless, when done at convenient points, the breaks do not affect the presentation and thus full consecutive interpretation is better than simultaneous interpretation in terms of comprehension of message. Other modes of interpretation include whispered, relay and liaison interpretation. (Soto 2010: 195).
Liaison interpretation involves spread of information from one person to another or a group. Once a speaker delivers message to one person, they relay the information to a multiple number of other third parties. It can also be referred to as bilateral or escort. There are various types of interpretation, such as conference, judicial, escort, public sector, medical, media and sign language interpretations. Different specialists in different areas of specialization venture into different categories of interpreters (Aranda 2007: 35). The aim of this paper is to discuss the ways in which the work of the simultaneous and consecutive conference interpreters differs from a liaison interpreter working in the public service.
Conference interpreting is useful during conference and multi-national meetings. Further, public service interpreting is also called community interpreting mainly targets public services agents. Liaison interpreters are mainly used in police interviews, court interpretation as well as medical consultations. These settings may often involve rare language dialects, posing major challenges to this type of interpretation (Soto 2010: 195).
According to Soto (2010: 195), the environment for conference interpreting can be multi-party conference, one-to-one business meeting or even public services. However, liaison interpretation only occurs in formal public meetings or intervention, such as courts, police or hospitals. The message is in the form of an interview, where the interpreter acts as a middleman between the interviewer and interviewee.
Simultaneous and consecutive interpretations are the only forms of conference interpreting, and require that the interpreters use a boot that is sound proof (Hung 2002: 129).. They use microphones and headphones to interpret messages. Liaison interpreting does not need any technical devices. Since it is one of the many forms of semi-skilled labor requiring one-on-one mediation, there is no need for technical gadgets.
Simultaneous interpreting can either be in the form of a whisper or tour guiding. There are acoustic difficulties that hinder the interpretation process. Public service interpreting can involve simultaneous interpreting, though without the use of technical devices. The chief mode of communication is bilateral exchange (Ward & Wilkinson 2006: 15). The speakers are more than one, and the exchange is in form of question and answer, for instance, between a doctor and a patient in hospital settings, a policeman and a suspect in police settings, or between the accused and accuser in court settings. Liaison interpreters sit behind their clients and communicate messages simultaneously in form of whispers.
There are no time losses during conferencing, since the audiences are able to engage in note taking for clear comprehension. In conference interpretation, corporations are usually aware of the most proficient interpreter and may even capitalize on one professional interpreter for all the meetings held. This makes it easier to save time that would otherwise have been spent trying to locate an interpreter. Furthermore, interpreters are always advertising their services and therefore the best interpreter is always a phone call away. Liaison interpretation may take a shorter or longer time depending on the linguistic dialects involved. Nevertheless, the contractor, usually the government, has to spend a lot of time trying to identify a suitable interpreter. Such interpreters are subcontracted when need arises because they do not need to have any formal training, and this precisely makes public interpretation expensive in terms of time (Hung 2002: 99).
All delegates in conference interpretation are able to participate fully, adding life to the conference meeting. However, this is very difficult in public services interpretation. This is because the interpreters are strict in following bureaucratic rules that do not allow the resolution of arising issues during presentation. Challenges are often ignored and do not get the formal attention required to resolve them. All people involved are accorded equal time to participate in the dialogue, as the interpreter offers the necessary linguistic mediation needed to aid comprehension. However, it is the mediator who speaks more (Ward & Wilkinson 2006: 15-69).
Gile (2009: 25) postulated that the process of interpreting in simultaneous interpreting may involve lots of breaks interfering with comprehension. This may also be unsuitable for multi-lingual conference settings. It may also be a barrier for lively discussions. Public service interpreter on the other hand is capable of handling delicate issues. Their work is highly guided by strict guidelines to govern behavior, and therefore their work depicts high level of professionalism (Gile 2009: 25).
Conference interpreters are trained to work with standard languages and therefore this type of interpreting involves the use of both passive and active working languages. The active languages used in simultaneous and consecutive interpreters are A and B languages, while C language is used to refer to the passive language. Public service interpreters do not need to learn the standard forms of languages, as long as they can offer the relevant linguistic mediation needed to intervene a situation. This makes public service interpreters more competent as useful than conference interpreters. While liaison interpreters can speak the informal language varieties of natural languages, conference interpreters cannot. This makes communication difficult especially if the delegates are only familiar with a certain language variety or dialect, which is not the standard form of the language (Gile 2009: 157).
Simultaneous and consecutive interpreters are required to be extremely competent in order to ensure orderly interpretation. Conferences interpreters are used to communicate messages among delegates from different linguistic descend, and therefore professional monitoring is very important in selecting an interpreter. They should be people with high professional records since they are attending to important business or diplomatic personnel. Public service interpretation makes use of linguistic mediators who are either semi-qualified or lack any qualification at all. Professional monitoring is considered not relevant in public service interpretation. Liaison interpreters are therefore exempted from professional qualifications, including linguistic competence (Colin & Morris 1996: 137).
Efficiency in conference interpretation is dependent upon the relevant academic qualifications. More and pleasant academic certificates increase chances of delivering quality service. Such interpreters may help a company decide on related decisions, such as the number required for a conference interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting is useful in seminars, class, congresses, business meetings as well as diplomatic proceedings and therefore there is a high demand for highly skilled personnel (Tennent 2005: 156). Most people serving as public service interpreters, on the other hand, do not have formal professional or vocational training in the field. However, they usually have met the basic requirement, which is the most basic requirement in language requirement. They are commissioned to work within the settings that require the language pair of the speaker and audience (Tennent 2005: 156).
Public service interpreters have a need to join a national interpreters group, whose membership requires some professional training. However, interpreters have the opportunity to subscribe membership as either interim or full time members. Interim members need no prior professional experience to perform any public service linguistic mediation. They nevertheless are required to meet some basic professional requirements through formal training and be able to address the needs of their client. There is a wide gap between these two groups of interpreters, and therefore constant monitoring is carried out to ensure that they adhere to the laid guidelines (Colin & Morris 1996: 137).
Conference interpreters do not discriminate against people from different social standing. Formal education is given to people on equal and favorable terms, and these people can serve anywhere as long as they have a good professional profile. On the other hand, public service interpreting training and professional affiliation charge exorbitant fees that can be viewed as a strategy to lock out people from humble backgrounds. There are many formalities that only favor the rich, and therefore most of public service interpreters are from middle class in the society. However, those without formal qualifications often work as interpreters of community languages, which are still in high demand in most of the public settings (JOSTRANS 2010: 100-108).
Colin & Morris (1996: 15) observed that conference interpreting is demanding and requires a high concentration power. Therefore these interpreters work in pairs especially in simultaneous interpreting. Each interpreter listens for around 30 minutes after which they give interpretation in turns so that no detail is lost. This is not very different from liaison interpreting. However, conference interpreting is most appropriate and can be used to draw a line between conference and public service interpreting. While liaison interpreting involves simultaneous whispers by a pair of interpreters, consecutive interpreting does not delay information since the interpreter is able to interpret directly to ensure that information reaches people from different cultural backgrounds promptly. Further, it is important to note that negotiation is an essential strategy in liaison interpretation. The aim is to bridge cultural gaps by adopting different styles to complement each occasion and match the competence of each audience (Colin & Morris, 1996: 15).
Interpreters are an important element in every day communication. Their effort ensures that people from different ethnical backgrounds can communicate and comprehend all the messages being conveyed. However, different settings call for different practices. Some environments do not require the use of professional interpreters, while others needs the most polished interpreters. However, it is difficult for all delegates in a meeting to be purely speakers of a standard language dialect. The presence of many linguistic varieties makes it important for people to learn various informal languages. This leads to the emergence of public service interpreters and conference interpreters.
Though these two types of interpreters play important roles in the business and private sectors, they have many differences. These differences can be in the form of language used, professional and academic experience required, mode of presentation, language used among others. It is however important for all translators to learn how to handle different clients in order to make maximum positive impact and eventually fulfill the communication needs by facilitating inclusive participation by all communicators.
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