• Interpretation

“Interpretation” is the act of rendering the spoken or signed language into another spoken or signed language. Therefore, interpreters are used whenever the message is spoken.

Interpretation is a complex practice that requires the interpreter to fully understand, analyze, and process spoken or signed messages. The interpreter, after processing this information, renders the message into another language.

It is useful to understand the modes of interpreting, the roles of the interpreter and some of the qualifications that are required in interpreting.

Modes of Interpretation

Consecutive Interpretation

Consecutive Interpretation requires highly specialized interpretation skill. A consecutive interpreter renders the speaker’s message into another language when the speaker pauses to allow interpretation. Another form of consecutive interpretation is Relay Interpretation. In relay interpreting, the interpreter listens to the source language speaker and renders the message into a language common to all the other interpreters. These other interpreters then render the message to their target language groups. Relay interpreting is sometimes referred to as “indirect interpreting.”..

Simultaneous Interpretation

Simultaneous Interpretation also requires highly specialized interpretation skill. However, a simultaneous interpreter renders the speakers’ message into another language while the speaker continues to speak. This mode of interpretation usually requires special equipment and is commonly used for conference interpreting. Another kind of simultaneous interpretation is Whispered interpretation. This kind of interpretation is done when equipment for simultaneous interpretation is not available; one participant speaks and simultaneously an interpreter whispers into the ear of the one or maximum two people who require interpreting services.

Sight translation

Sight translation can be defined as the reading of a text by the interpreter from the source language into the target language, simultaneously, in a manner in which the content of the document can be easily understood by the audience. Although it is not always considered as a mode, it is nevertheless often used and is not usually documented in available interpreting manuals. It is, nowadays, the most commonly used form in environments such as courtrooms, in cases such as the reading of a witness’s statement or a court ruling.

Consecutaneous Interpretation

Consecutaneous Interpretation is the practice of rendering questions in English in the simultaneous mode while interpreting responses into English in the true consecutive mode (often used in legal settings)

Roles of the Interpreter


In this role, the interpreter acts as a means for what is said by one party to reach the other. This is the basic or default role of the interpreter. The interpreter speaks exactly what has been said in the other language, BECOMING THE VOICE OF THE PATIENT AND THE PROVIDER.


There are times when a term or phrase is not heard or understood. Usually evidenced by a “blank stare” or a delay in the response to a question. In this role the interpreter checks for understanding and seeks to remove any doubts about what was said. The interpreter assumes this role when he/she believe it is necessary to facilitate understanding.


Taking on this role implies having knowledge on the particular cultural beliefs of the individuals you are interpreting for. That knowledge of different cultures allows the interpreter to detect cultural misunderstandings and assume the role of cultural interface, providing the necessary cultural framework to clear up any misunderstanding.


In this role, the interpreter goes beyond being the patient’s voice. Here the interpreter ACTS on certain issues that he/she feels are necessary for the patient to get the appropriate care he needs. THE INTERPRETER IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE QUALITY OF CARE that the LEP patient is to receive. It is the most “active” role an interpreter can assume and usually the least frequent one. There is a lot of controversy over how much an interpreter should become involved in the patient’s healthcare needs. The general consensus is that this role should be assumed by the interpreter ONLY WHEN THE PATIENT’S LIFE OR WELL-BEING IS AT RISK.

To schedule an in-person interpreter, please click here and fill out the request form. If you have any questions, or need help filling out the form, please call 888.224.9192 ext. 2.