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Interpreting: simult. or consecutive more often?
Thread poster: xxxForest
xxxForest
French to German
Dec 15, 2006

Dear readers,

I have been studying translation and interpreting for a few years now and lately realised that I am much more competent in simultaneous than consecutive interpreting. So I wonder whether it would be possible to offer just simultaneous interpreting (besides translation) when working as an interpretor after the studies.

What I would like to know: how often do you do which style of interpreting? Maybe you can express it in numbers, for instance "60% simultaneous and 40% consecutive".

Furthermore, do you think it depends on the language and the theme how often one does the one or the other?

I guess this could start a really interesting discussion. Thanks a lot in advance!


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Mulyadi Subali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 18:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
mostly simultaneous Dec 15, 2006

i handled mostly simultaneous interpreting on my professional projects. as with you, i'm more convenient in doing simultaneous interpreting than consecutive.

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Maria Eugenia Farre  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In Brazil, mostly simultaneous Dec 15, 2006

I don't know about other countries, but in Brazil we use mostly simultaneous, even for small meetings (portable). I think this is probably a global trend as equipment rental prices drop with the introduction of new technologies. I don't do more than 5% consecutive jobs a year which is great because I'm not a very big fan of consecutive.

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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:28
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I do both. Dec 15, 2006

I like more simultaneous, but in Germany the interpreting technik is very expensive, that why it is used only at big conferences.

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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
In the US Dec 15, 2006

I'm a court interpreter, and in the courts, most of what we do is done in the simultaneous mode. Consecutive is only used for witness testimony during trials, and during some types of hearings when the judge addresses brief questions to the defendants directly.
During depositions, I've used both methods. I interpret the attorney's questions simultaneously, and render the answer in the consecutive mode.
As far a conference intepreting, the preferred method is simultaneous because it's unobtrusive and it saves time. I have heard of small gatherings where there was no equipment, and the speaker had to share the microphone with the interpreter. That is not an ideal situation, it's uncomfortable for speakers of both languages to be pausing constantly to hear both persons taking turns, and it makes everything take twice as long.
So, the answer is, we use simultaneous much more often. And most interpreters would agree that consecutive interpretation is more difficult.


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:28
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
In my job.... Dec 15, 2006

I do approximately 98% simutaneous and 2% consecutive. I much prefer simultaneous.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Simultaneous Dec 15, 2006

I do virtually all simultaneous intepreting, which is what I have trained myself to do. Consecutive requires memory skills I have not acquired, so if on rare occasions if I need to do it, I have the speaker speak in short spurts so memory is not a problem; otherwise I get lost.

My style is to quickly process it, get rid of it and move on.

As far as I can see, the vast majority of interpreting work is simultaneous.

I have worked gatherings, some large, where there was no equipment. As long as the audience all speaks the same language I can have the speaker feed it to me and then I broadcast it to the audience in a louder voice, which is all they have to hear.

I just explain that to the speaker so that person understands they are going to be "upstaged". Once they see it works they usually don´t mind.

Teju and I live in the same place, so our experiences are similar.


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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:28
French to Italian
+ ...
Both Dec 16, 2006

but I do mostly consecutive.
In my opinion, consecutive is really more difficult, because you need to understand and memorize what is said.
On the other hand, it is much more rewarding.
You sit with your clients, and share with them.
When you are in your booth, they consider you a tool, not a human being.


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Lorenia de la Vega  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
About 90% simultaneous, 10% consecutive. Dec 16, 2006

Before moving back to Europe, I worked in Cancun for two years. I think I did simultaneous almost excusively, except for a few and far between things such as depos.

Since I moved back to Europe (under a year) I have been working mostly simultaneous, but more and more with consecutive. I work for a lot of NGOs, and during reunions, they ask that the interpreting please be consecutive.

"So I wonder whether it would be possible to offer just simultaneous interpreting (besides translation) when working as an interpretor after the studies."

As for that, I think you can do whatever you please, and you should. You should only offer the services you feel most comfortable providing. I know many people that studied a certain language all through high school and university, and do not offer it as a language they interpret from because they feel more comfortable with just their A and B. I had a teacher who had an INCREDIBLE memory, took very few notes, and worked EXCLUSIVELY with consecutive, she didn't like (or offer) simultaneous.



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Aleph _Trans
Argentina
Local time: 08:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Most of my assignments Dec 16, 2006

are SI.

Hi there!

I think that there is a trend to move towards SI or simul-consec all around the world, except for certain bilateral negotiations (small 1-5 people meetings) and obviously for dinner/luncheons in official settings (e. g. State functions.)

I do about 90:10% nowadays.

Best,

José Luis


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Silvia Montufo Urquízar  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:28
French to Spanish
+ ...
Question for teju Dec 16, 2006

Teju said:

"During depositions, I've used both methods. I interpret the attorney's questions simultaneously, and render the answer in the consecutive mode".

So I wonder:

Do you have equipment to do simultaneous interpreting in US courts? Teju, why did you say you use simultaneous for attorney's questions and consecutive for the answers? What's the point?

I'm a court interpreter myself in Spain so I'm really interested. I'm sure you know Susan Berk-Seligon book called "The Bilingual Courtroom". I haven't read it completely yet but I don't think she mentions simultaneous interpreting at all.

Anyway, don't you think it would be more appropiate to talk about "bilateral" in this case? Or do you consider that to be consecutive mode too?

Views from other colleagues are also very welcome.

Best regards from Andalucía.


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:28
It's different in the US Dec 22, 2006

Silvia Montufo Urquízar wrote:


Teju said:

"During depositions, I've used both methods. I interpret the attorney's questions simultaneously, and render the answer in the consecutive mode".

So I wonder:

Do you have equipment to do simultaneous interpreting in US courts? Teju, why did you say you use simultaneous for attorney's questions and consecutive for the answers? What's the point?

I'm a court interpreter myself in Spain so I'm really interested. I'm sure you know Susan Berk-Seligon book called "The Bilingual Courtroom". I haven't read it completely yet but I don't think she mentions simultaneous interpreting at all.

Anyway, don't you think it would be more appropiate to talk about "bilateral" in this case? Or do you consider that to be consecutive mode too?

Views from other colleagues are also very welcome.

Best regards from Andalucía.



Actually, most of the time when U.S. court interpreters say simultaneous, they are refering to some variation of chuchotage which involves portable or no equipment. Some very lucky people (I think in Washington, D.C.) actually interpret in courts with booths, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

It's kind of the "Tale of Two Cities". In the best of districts, interpreters are paid a pretty high daily/half-daily rates, they are provided equipment and/or booths (in the very best districts), two interpreters are regularly assigned to any procedure lasting longer than 30 minutes, and they are given the means to prepare.

In the worst of districts, interpreters are paid low rates by the hour, are expected to work on entire trials alone, and requests for equipment, preparation materials, and multiple collegues on the same assignment are met with blank stares of bewilderment, if not outright contempt.

To answer your other question, depositions are bilateral situations, and the witness's answers need to be in English for the official record, while the witness needs to hear the attorney's questions in Spanish in order to understand it. So that simultaneous/consecutive mix makes perfect sense. Think of it as you being the personal interpreter of a Spanish delegate in a small working group meeting. You would interpret the entire proceedings into Spanish in chuchotage for the benefit of the delegate, and then consecutively towards English when the delegate had to make his or her presentation, for the benefit of the other working group members. It's the same dynamic in a deposition.

The theory behind using simultaneous in courts is that a defendant has a right to be "present" at all legal hearings, which he or she obviously cannot be if he or she does not understand what is going on around him or her.

In Spain, if I understand correctly, court interpreting is generally done exclusively in consecutive, and only when the judge requests interpretation. I've also heard that conditions are generally not great, so I really tip my hat to you for giving a professional service and taking it seriously by reading books like "The Bilingual Courtroom".

Take care and Happy Holidays,
Jonathan


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