Probably, all you need to know about translators and their work
What is consecutive translation and what is it for?
Translation of separate utterances in between them.
Usually, the speaker pauses after some phrases giving the floor to the interpreter. Experienced speakers break their speeches into separate passages, thus, making translator’s task much easier. In most of the cases, translator needs to agree some crucial points (such as phrases length) with the speaker beforehand.
Consecutive translation is common for public events (such as seminars,
lectures or conferences), where synchronous translation equipment can not be
used, or at business negotiations. In the latter case, one and the same
translator can translate “both ways”, that is from one language to the other and
What is simultaneous (synchronous) translation and what is it for?
Translation of utterances started before they are finished, that is simultaneously or with an insignificant delay, which may be due to a source language peculiarity (for example, German phrases end by predicate, which make them impossible to be translated until they are finished).
Simultaneous translation saves time making conversation more animated and natural.
Simultaneous translation is used at public events, where special equipment (microphones and headsets, with which the translator can hear the speaker and the audience can hear the translator) is available. Equipment for simultaneous translation can be installed or mobile.
Simultaneous translation is carried out in one direction (from one language
Oral translation consumes huge amounts of mental energy. That is why good consecutive and, especially, simultaneous translation supposed to be performed for several hours takes at least two equally skilled interpreters (a pair). Working in pair, oral translators alternate with each other every hour and a half, at maximum.
Moreover, every client should keep in mind, that in most of the cases special
sound-transmitting equipment is used for synchronous translation. Such equipment
may be fixed or movable. Fixed equipment is installed, where the need for
simultaneous translation is regular (premises of international organisations,
offices of some big companies etc.). Movable equipment is of a wider use. It has
to be leased separately and we can arrange it for you or your company.
Some wide-spread misconceptions of translation and translators
Simultaneous translation is the most complicated kind of translation in
It is not so, or not exactly so. Simultaneous translation is a separate kind of work using specific skills, that are not at all harder or easier to develop, than those required in other fields of translations.
Consecutive translation is not less complicated and does not take less effort – it merely refers to different areas of the psyche and mental abilities, such as the short-term memory, which is not used when they translate synchronously. The ability to memorise and recall instantly has to be trained permanently. Otherwise, translation skills deteriorate significantly.
Of course, synchronous translation requires unhampered fluency in both
working languages and highly developed ability to find equivalents quickly (or
else the interpreter will have nothing to recall or be always late to start),
whereas consecutive translation always leaves an impression, that there is
always some time “to think it over”. In fact, there is no time at all, because
you have to listen attentively and memorise while looking for proper equivalents.
If you try to do it when the speaker stops, everybody will see, that you are
unaware of what you are doing. Moreover, everybody would expect you to be more
precise and explicit, than a simultaneous interpreter, whilst it is not always
Only the one, who is equally good at any kind of translation, may be considered professional.
There is no one to be good at all translation genres to the same degree, as there is no, say, pentathlonist, who run, swim, ride, shoot and fence well enough to challenge pure professionals in each of these kinds of sport.
Every translator is more inclined to a particular kind of translation and prefers it to all the others, which is due to personal traits and uneven development of professional skills.
Sometimes, such preference involves focusing on a particular type of work (written, consecutive or simultaneous) and even subject area (for example, medicine or law).
However, most professionals manage to perform well enough (as our exemplary
pentathlonist) in all “events”, being especially good at one (or, at least, two)