Interpretation Oral translation is included in the services of almost every translation agency. Interpretation is required at conferences, meetings and in any event involving people that speak different languages. Interpretation is often put in the context of conference interpreting as it is most often used at conferences. It must be remembered that oral translation is provided by an interpreter and written translation by a translator.

When ordering interpretation services one must always take into account that for a successful performance at least a three-week prior notice, preferably even a month's advance notice, of the event is required. Client should be as dutiful as possible in ensuring that the authors of presentations would send their reports by a given deadline and provide interpreters with necessary materials at least five days before the event is due. In case of easier speeches or texts, two-three days will also be sufficient. In that way the interpreter can ensure best results, for there is enough time to go through the subject of presentations, the terms used, the speaker's language use and other relevant details. With the lack of presentation related information provided in advance, interpreters may ask a higher price for the simultaneous interpretation.

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Types of interpretation

Consecutive interpreting
Speaker's text is interpreted usually by time slots of 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the text, interpreting by shorter phases is also called parroting. Consecutive interpretation requires no special equipment; interpreters use their notes taken during the speech.
Simultaneous interpreting
Interpretation is performed at interpreter's booth simultaneously with the speaker's presentation and the text in the target language reaches the listeners through special headphones. There are normally at least two interpreters in the interpreter’s booth since one interpreter cannot interpret for more than half an hour on a continuous basis.
Whispered interpreting
Similar to simultaneous interpretation in that the interpretation takes place simultaneously with the speaking, but is characterised by no requirement of special equipment and the interpretation is whispered to only a few people.
Written text interpreting
In this case not spoken text is interpreted, instead, the source-language text is read from sheet and interpretation is given orally.
Sign language interpreting
As the name says the text is either interpreted into or from sign language in order to ensure the linguistic equality of all parties involved. In Estonia, this type of interpreting is provided by Estonian Association of Sign Language Interpreters.

Ordering interpretation

Interpretation often refers to A, B and C language, the first of which is the mother tongue of interpreter, from and into which he or she interprets. B language is an active foreign language that interpreter commands at a very good level and into and from which he/she can interpret. C language is a passive foreign language from which interpreter interprets only into his/her native language and not vice versa. Interpreter usually (also translator) has one B language and one or two C languages. The European Union permits, for example, only one B language.

The most common types of interpreting are simultaneous, consecutive and whispered interpreting. There is also conference interpreting, which usually entails simultaneous interpreting and may in turn be court interpreting, media interpreting, public sector interpreting and EU interpreting. One interesting type is also relay interpreting which is performed via an intermediate or pivot language understood by every interpreter concerned.

Good interpreters are people who have an open mind and no fear of standing and talking in front of a large crowd of people. Interpreters should also be relatively modest, for they must not outshine the public speaker. Furthermore, an interpreter has to leave his/her own principles and notions aside and deliver the thoughts of a speaker as if they were the interpreter’s own, otherwise the listeners will receive a modified message. Apart from that, simultaneous interpreting particularly requires good concentration and high stress tolerance.

Differences between written and oral translation

Even though both deal with putting texts into a different language, written translation and interpretation differ in various aspects. The most evident differences among others are:

Recorded or not
Interpreter interprets once and nobody will hear, read or analyse it again. Written translation, however, is recorded, it can be repeatedly read, amended, analysed, retranslated, etc.
Interpreter’s tools are mainly the source text and his or her own knowledge, while it is also important to guess what the speaker might say next. Translator, however, can use various dictionaries, other texts on the same subject and also expert advice and instructions. As the time for contemplation is very scarce in the case of simultaneous interpreting, interpreters may fall into difficulties when trying to convey e.g. jokes or idioms, as the detection of equivalents may require more time that is available in the interpretation process.
Time for contemplation
Simultaneous and whispered interpreting leaves minimum time to think, one must react immediately when the speaker has begun a sentence. Consecutive interpreting offers a bit more time, for interpreting is slightly delayed. Written translation provides as much time as stipulated by the deadline, and, as a rule, translator has time to go over the translation.
Team work
This only applies to simultaneous interpretation where each booth has two or three interpreters that help each other if necessary. Translators, however, mostly work alone, although they may consult with specialists, etc.
Client feedback
In case of interpretation client is present and able to comment after interpretation on the merits and drawbacks of specific interpretation. In the case of translation the feedback does not occur immediately, and it may happen that client gives no feedback at all.

Interpretation in the European Union

There are more interpreters working in the EU than in any other international organisation As the Union has 27 Member States and 23 official languages, and it is provided by law that all members bear the right to use their native language, interpreters (and translators) have their hands full of work. 350 EU interpreters have an official status, and additionally there are 2500 interpreters or assistant conference interpreters in reserve.

The institutions that have their own interpretation service are European Parliament, European Commission and European Court of Justice. Interpreters are most abundant at parliamentary plenary meetings where 800-1000 interpreters are used. Interpreters are also required at all kinds of other meetings (e.g. faction board meeting, meetings of delegations), press conferences and in foreign missions.

Price of interpretation

Starting from 700 EEK per hour

Interpretation is priced by the hour. The hourly rate may at first seem rather high, but one must not forget that interpretation is preceded by thorough preparation, during which interpreter learns about the subject of the event, related presentations and terminology thereof. Price of interpreting may also involve additional transportation costs if interpreter needs to go to another city, as well as the cost of transport and leasing of interpreting equipment (in case of need for simultaneous interpreting).

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