Language interpretation


The act of interpreting involves transfer of spoken information or message from one language to another orally. A person who interprets is called an interpreter. An interpreter ought to be able to listen effectively and process information as quickly as possible. Interpretation can be carried out in different ways, i.e in person, by telephone or via video conferencing link-up.

Types of interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation

In this type of interpretation, the interpreter listens to spoken content and renders it to the target language before the speaker pauses. In this type of interpreting, the interpreter wears earphones and is in the booth. This type of interpretation is also known as conference interpreting. The interval of speaking between the speaker and the interpreter is just a few seconds.

Consecutive interpretation

In this interpretation the speaker says a few words and gives room for the interpreter to convey the message into the target language. It is when the speaker pauses that the interpreter repeats what is being communicated into the target language. This type of interpreting is commonly done in business meetings and court proceedings.

Whisper interpretation

Whisper interpreting or ‘chuchotage’ is a form of interpreting where the interpreter sits or stands alongside the target audience and whispers of what is being said. Whisper interpreting is carried out to make a person(s) who does not understand the conversation in the source language catch up with what is communicated.

Challenges during interpreting

Interpretation poses difficulties sometimes. There are times even experienced interpreters find themselves in a state of uncertainty when conveying some concepts. The following are the common challenges when interpreting.

Difficulty hearing the speaker.

It happens on some occasions that the interpreter misses out what is being said due to failure to hear the speaker. The difficulty can be due to the speaker’s accent, voice or equipment faults.

Lack of knowledge about the subject matter.

The interpreter can lack competence when interpreting about a topic he or she is not familiar with. The interpreter will be unavoidably prone to errors in rendering the intended concepts.

Lack of prep materials

When the interpreter does not have any clue of what is going to be talked about, it is highly unlikely for him or her to do the job smoothly.

Lack of prior cultural knowledge

Interpreting cultural terms is not an easy task. No two languages can have exactly the same culture. Cultural incompetence leads to misinterpretation of words, hence failure to transfer the intended concepts.

Interpreting humor, sarcasm and jokes

It is not easy to interpret humor, sarcasm or jokes. This is because they are culture bound. For instance, when a joke is interpreted to another, it loses its taste or sense. Hence the impact of the becomes different.

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