<center><font colour=blue><b>Court Matters: Simultaneous or Consecutive?</b></center></font>

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Interpreting  »  
Court Matters: Simultaneous or Consecutive?

Court Matters: Simultaneous or Consecutive?

By Marcia Pinheiro | Published  12/31/2013 | Interpreting | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://arm.proz.com/doc/3958
Marcia Pinheiro
անգլերենից պորտուգալերեն translator
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Interpreting is orally, or sign-wise through body language, expressing the translation, as well as impact, if possible, of a person’s/group’s speech to another person or group. This translation may be from any type of language into any other type, say from English into English or from sign language into oral language.

The difference between Interpreting, and Translating is that, in the latter, the discourse of a source, be it human or not, needs to be expressed after it goes through processes of decodification (Maria-Dimitra & Anastasia, 2009), and codification, and the expression happens in the shape of written text. In the former, results are expressed orally or through body language instead.

In this way, reading a text to another person is a synonym for interpreting it.

Talking about professional interpreters or aid of an interpreter means talking about more than that: that refers to the professional who not only interprets a translation through expressing it via body gesture or oral discourse, if possible reproducing the impact in the source culture, but who also got the material that generates the contents of their body gestures or speech in the same way (body gestures or oral discourse) from the person/group who is trying to communicate something. The interpreter has to then be at least an extraordinary translator, an extraordinary communicator, and an extraordinary listener/observer to succeed in their profession, what means that the set of skills that are necessary for a person to be a good professional interpreter is at least different from the set of skills that are necessary for a person to be a good professional translator.

The basic professional activities of the translator demand way more administrative, and physical work than those of the interpreter: whilst the translator must worry a lot about lines that are not fully used (insertion of stop marks, and so on) in order to have a claim on being reliable, the interpreter has to worry a lot about senses that are not fully grasped, or not entirely unique.

The skills used by these professionals are very distinct in what comes to the top levels of the Bloom’s Taxonomy, but may actually coincide in what comes to the bottom ones.

The load of work belonging to the bottom levels of the pyramid of Bloom is extraordinary for those who translate.

For those who interpret, extraordinary is the load of work belonging to the top levels of this pyramid instead.

Having systems in place to manage all their routine activities is a necessity for both types of professional.

Deadlines is a concern that belongs to the translator with almost exclusivity.

There is some piece of the work in interpreting that will involve those (for instance voice-overs). However, the activities of the translator all depend on that.

Ownership, care, and handling of paper lexicons during duty is a concern that belongs exclusively to translators.

The differences between skills set, and mental usage maps are definitely topics that need to be formally discussed in a separate piece.

In Simultaneous Interpreting, the sigmatoid (Semiotica, our paper) simultaneous appears in the expression in its ordinary sense, so that it means at the same time (Merriam-Webster, 2013).

This is actually a modality of interpreting in which the professional interpreter will interpret the message they get from the person/group trying to communicate as it is conveyed. That means that the interpreter will sometimes whisper the result of their processes of decodification and codification into the ear of the person/group trying to receive the message.

For this modality to be considered to be in place, the interpreter must convey the message in almost real time to the group/person who is receiving it.

If the origin of the message is the source, and the receptor of the message is the sink (from Algebra (Boston, p. 31, 2012), the modality is being applied if the sink is receiving the message expressed by the source with a maximum delay of about forty seconds.

Consecutive interpreting, on the other hand, is a much more relaxed, and perfect way of interpreting. One could also say that it is a much more reasonable way of doing that. In this modality, the interpreter may take notes, and think for some time, say think about the best way to convey the message to the receptor, or even think about what the own message is.

Given the characteristics of both modalities, simultaneous interpreting has a much higher rate of mistake than consecutive interpreting.

For courts, where words matter quite a lot, the recommendation is consecutive, not simultaneous, interpreting.


Maria-Dimitra, B., & Anastasia, G. (2009). Retrieved December 31 2013 from http://smcnetwork.org/node/1243

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. (2013). Simultaneous. Retrieved December 31 2013 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/simultaneous

Boston, N. (2012). Applications of Algebra to Communications, Control, and Signal Processing. ISBN-10: 1461438624.

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