Everything You Need to Know About Live Interpretation

Curious about how interpretation works? Wonder no more as GORR pulls back the curtain on this linguistic balancing act.

A woman sitting at a desk, doing remote interpreting from one language to another on her laptop.

Have you ever watched a meeting of the UN and wondered how on earth people from 193 different Member States can get together and discuss global issues? Logistics aside, it’s a tall order. With around 7000 languages actively spoken on our planet, there is a lot of diversity that requires consideration. 

That’s where interpreters come in.   

A Brief Introduction to Interpretation 

So, what is interpretation? Interpretation is a process that involves translating spoken or signed language from one language to another. Unlike translation, which deals with written texts, interpretation takes place in real time. Thus, the interpreter listens to, comprehends, and converts the message from the source language into the target language immediately. 

Interpreters play an instrumental role in facilitating communication in various situations such as international conferences, business meetings, courtrooms, hospitals, and educational environments. They convert the speaker’s thoughts and feelings, maintaining the original message’s tone, style, and intent. 

Understanding Live Interpretation 

Live interpretation, also known as on-site interpretation, occurs in real time during face-to-face meetings or events. In this setting, interpreters are physically present and provide their services directly. There are mainly two types of live interpretation – consecutive and simultaneous. 

In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter begins interpreting after the speaker has concluded a sentence or a thought. This type of interpretation requires a high level of concentration and memory skills as interpreters need to remember the entire segment before they can start interpreting. 

Simultaneous interpretation, conversely, necessitates interpreters to interpret the message as the speaker continues speaking. This method is commonly used in large gatherings like international conferences or seminars and requires specialized equipment like microphones, headsets, and sometimes, soundproof booths. 

Online Interpretation: A Closer Look

Naturally, as technology continues to develop, interpretation services have also had to evolve and adapt to our digital world. Online interpretation, also known as remote interpretation, allows interpreters to provide their services without being physically present at the location. It can be delivered via various platforms such as video calls, phone calls, or via specialized interpretation apps. 

Similar to live interpretation, online interpretation also includes consecutive and simultaneous modes. However, it offers an added layer of convenience and flexibility to all parties. Online interpretation eliminates travel time and costs and allows access to interpreters around the globe, making it a practical solution for remote meetings or events with participants from different locations.  

Unsurprisingly, remote interpretation became a lifeline for medical services, international relations, businesses, and sales during the pandemic as global lockdowns literally grounded unnecessary travel of any kind. Going digital kept our world working when we couldn’t leave our homes and interpreters kept language barriers at bay, allowing us to stay connected through it all.   

The Essential Role of Human Interpreters

Regardless of the current surge of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in language translation, human interpreters still hold a significant position in the field of interpretation. They bring nuances, cultural contexts, emotions, and expressions to the interpretation that machines simply cannot replicate. 

Human interpreters prove to be particularly beneficial in situations where accuracy and cultural sensitivity are paramount. For instance, in legal proceedings, a slight misinterpretation can lead to serious consequences. Similarly, in medical settings, accurate interpretation is crucial for correct diagnosis and treatment. Anything less can cause unnecessary pain or even end in death.  

Moreover, human interpreters play an instrumental role in diplomatic negotiations and international conferences, where understanding cultural nuances can make a significant difference. They can pick up on subtle cues, inflections, and body language, providing a more comprehensive interpretation than any machine could offer. 

In short, interpretation and interpreters play a crucial role in a wide variety of sectors, facilitating understanding and collaboration on a human level. AI absolutely has its place and its uses in the industry, however, as with any tool, GORR knows all too well that professional guidance is paramount to correct and effective usage. 


At GORR, we offer comprehensive solutions to all your language needs:

Certified Translation
Editing and Proofreading
Translation and Editing
Live Interpretation
Software Translation
Website Localization

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