19 Apr Now more than ever there is a need for Distance Interpreting. But what is it about exactly?
In recent months, the physical limitations imposed by COVID-19 regulations have contributed to the rise in demand of a particular service of linguistic mediation, which is now needed more than ever: distance interpreting.
Created in the medical field to satisfy the need for urgent communication, this form of interpreting is now also used in other sectors. The development of communication technologies has made it possible for businesses and organisations to manoeuvre around obstacles to communication and make the most of possibilities for remote interpreting.
In this situation the interpreter is not physically located near clients but is linked directly to them through video and/or audio systems that allow them to bridge distances and overcome language barriers. This type of mediation indeed proves to be particularly useful in situations that require swift communication with a foreign speaker and without prior notice.
- Telephone Interpreting
- Video Remote Interpreting
- Benefits of Distance Interpreting
- Drawbacks of Distance Interpreting
But not only that. This same modality can be used by international brands to schedule in-house or external business meetings, webinars and online meetings. There are various types of distance interpreting and they can be chosen according to your specific requirements. Let’s look at a few together!
The telephone interpreter assists clients by using headphones and speakers in an audio call, but without being able to rely on any assistance from visual information. This aspect of interpreting makes maintaining a high level of involvement particularly difficult; in fact, requesting additional information or clarification could be necessary.
That is the precise reason why this specific form of distance interpreting is normally used in emergency situations, unforeseen circumstances, or for meetings that are quite brief and not overly complicated. The messages in these cases are also often interpreted in consecutive mode: the interpreter talks only after hearing the entire message of each speaker.
Video remote interpreting
Video remote interpreting occurs through the use of free instant messaging programs or ad hoc platforms, purposefully developed to ensure a high-quality experience.
In this situation, the interpreter can take full advantage of the physical information available compared to telephone mediation. Effectively, the video call simulates a meeting held on-site: the interpreter has the opportunity to observe the speaker’s body language and can therefore communicate clearly and directly.
These circumstances allow professionals of linguistic mediation to interpret messages in simultaneous mode. With the support of cloud platforms and technological devices, interpreters are capable of delivering a thorough translation to their audience in real time.
This type of distance interpreting has always been particularly used in the healthcare field. However, today it has extended to other sectors, like tourism, finance, IT and business. Companies are using this support increasingly more often when they need to manage work negotiations or business relationships on an international level.
Benefits of Distance Interpreting
Distance interpreting undoubtedly offers considerable benefits, from both a logistical and also economic point of view.
- costs reduction: by exploiting the potential for long-distance connections, it is possible to eliminate travel and accommodation costs, thereby offering very competitive prices on the market
- bridging distances: video interpreting facilitates the exchange of communication and makes it possible to obtain a high-quality translation, regardless of geographical distance
- greater organisational flexibility: online connections make it quick and easy to find interpreters at any time
- swifter solutions to problems: a direct translation and immediate communication together provide a quick response to emergency situations
- easy consultation involving rare languages: long-distance mediation allows you to easily find interpreters of rare languages or less common language combinations
Drawbacks of Distance Interpreting
This form of mediation also has its own set of disadvantages, for the most part associated with the overall quality of the translation.
- shorter duration of conversations: compared to on-site interpreting, sustaining telephone or video conversations is more demanding work, as the translation quality begins to fall after approximately 15 minutes
- technical problems: issues with audio or video connections may accompany the use of support tools, contributing to reduced translation quality
- reduced immediacy in communication: as the interpreter and speaker are not located in the same physical setting, there can be problems in taking turns in the conversation, following the flow of the discussion and managing emotionally charged messages
- difficulty in translating documents: the interpreter is not able to see the physical documents to be translated or can only refer to them by video feed, and thus may encounter some difficulties in completing a technical translation
- greater specialisation: as mentioned in the points above, specific training in this application field is often required of interpreters
Despite the drawbacks mentioned, distance interpreting does represent a valid alternative to traditional interpreting in some specific contexts. For this reason, its use has spread exponentially in recent years and mediation techniques have continued to improve with a view to reaching an ever higher quality of translation.