Interpreting is the oral translation of speech.

There are several types of service available:

Consecutive interpreting – the interpreter translates the speaker‘s entire speech once finished, using notes taken if required.

Simultaneous interpreting – the interpreter is in a specially-equipped booth with a console, microphone and earphones. The interpreter follows the speech, translating what is said ‘live’ as the words are spoken. Given the intense level of concentration required, interpreters work in pairs and relay each other every 20 to 30 minutes. A good team shares out the work, the interpreter taking a break preparing the documents under discussion for his/her fellow interpreter, for example.

Whispered interpreting is a variation of simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter follows what is being said and translates by whispering into the ear of his or her delegate.
Liaison interpreting usually takes place in a more informal setting (work meetings, visits, etc.). The interpreter works most of the time without taking notes, memorising short passages and interpreting them into the target language.

An interpreter normally only translates into his/her native language when interpreting simultaneously, but may be required to provide “feedback”. This means sometimes translating both into the native language and second working language for consecutive interpreting and almost always in the liaison interpreting context.

But what is a native language? How should you address the interpreter during a meeting?

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