Interpreting is like translation, except that a translator changes text from one language to another and an interpreter deals with the spoken word. Interpreting services can be found through a translation agency, or by using a freelancer. Many interpreters work for companies in-house or for government departments and public bodies. Interpreters can work in the fields of health and medical matters, law, government, community and business.

Interpreting Styles

Someone who is hard of hearing, or cannot hear at all, can use a sign language interpreter, or a professional lip reader. Interpreters can also learn to sign for blind people by making signals into their hands. This is called tactile signing.

Interpretation can be consecutive or simultaneous. Consecutive interpretation means that the interpreter listens to the person speaking (or signing) until they have finished a sentence and then they translate it and relay it back to the listener. Interpreters often take notes and the process obviously takes longer than simultaneous interpreting.

Simultaneous interpreters speak at the same time as the other person. To do this, they need excellent levels of concentration and ability in the foreign language they are interpreting. Simultaneous interpretation means that there is no delay in in the speech and nothing is lost.


Qualified interpreters usually have a degree in a foreign language and a certificate or diploma from a linguistic body. In the UK, this would be the Chartered Institute of Linguists. It is important to use a professional interpreter to avoid mistakes.

The Importance of Professional Interpretation

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter made an official visit to Poland. Instead of using a Polish interpreter, a Russian professional was used. Although he spoke Polish he was not used to interpreting in that language. As a result, he misinterpreted a number of Carter’s words from his speech and the audience began to laugh at the President. Unbeknown to him a phrase like ‘for your desires for the future’ were interpreted as ‘your lusts for the future,’ which his audience found funny. Luckily it wasn’t an interpretation mistake that cost a life, or the loss of contract, but it was of course highly embarrassing for the US president.

Interpreting and Translation Services

If you would like to know more about the interpreting services we offer, or if you are looking for a translator or transcriber, contact us at Language Insight and we’ll be happy to provide you the information and assistance you need for your project.