According to the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ e.V.), interpreting is the oral transmission of a spoken or written text. A distinction is made between conference and court interpreting. Translators or interpreters are sworn in and/or publicly appointed for the latter. Many people are completely unaware of how varied the profession is and also the number of techniques a trained interpreter needs to master.
Interpreters are naturally fluent in one or more languages. They generally tend to specialise in a particular field, as the terminology or jargon plays a decisive role. If a translation is required, then a dedicated briefing is needed to enable the interpreter to prepare in advance for the content.
The following versions of interpreting are most common:
Simultaneous interpreting is probably the best known method. The interpreter translates the speaker’s words as he or she is speaking using interpreting equipment. This technique is widely used particularly at events attended by large numbers of people, such as meetings, conferences, events or symposia.
When only one or two people are involved in a conversation, then the translation is “whispered” directly to the individual (generally without the need for any equipment). A tour guide system can be used for this if the group will be moving around, say on guided tours of a production plant, company visits or audits. In this case, the interpreter does not have to be in the immediate vicinity of the guests, and instead can provide the service from a little way away.
Liaison interpreting is used in business negotiations, company visits or in court when the interpreter translates the discussion between two or more people in individual sentences or short sections. The use of a tour guide system can also prove useful here.
The use of a tour guide system and the extent to which it is used essentially depends on whether the group needs to be mobile as well as the size of the group. Loud background noise can be another reason to use a tour guide system. The use of a system with a built-in feedback/query function is particularly convenient if the content is not correctly understood or an issue needs to be clarified. In general, several interpreters and speakers talking simultaneously should not cause interference. Interpreting booths should be used if this is the case.