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Over-the-Phone Interpreting

What is Over-the-Phone Interpreting?

Like its name suggests, over-the-phone interpreting is a type of interpreting which takes place over the phone. The interpreter who isn’t physically present on the site listens to one or multiple speakers who are either on-site or off-site themselves and renders translation to allow them to establish communication. Over-the-phone interpreting can be either simultaneous or consecutive but it is usually provided consecutively. This means that the interpreter waits for the speaker to make a pause to render interpretation and then waits for them to continue or for the second speaker to reply to what is being said.

Advantages of Over-the-Phone Interpreting

The greatest advantage of over-the-phone interpreting is that it can be provided instantly and at any time and on any place because most over-the-phone interpreting service providers offer this service 24 hours a day. This makes it especially useful when the need for interpreting occurs unexpectedly or when there is not enough time to wait for the interpreter to arrive on the site. Another advantage of over-the-phone interpreting over other options is that it is less expensive because it eliminates travelling costs. Also, it can be used to break the language barrier and establish an effective communication regardless if the participants are on- or off-site (for example, taking part of the discussion over the phone or via videotelecommunication technology).

Disadvantages of Over-the-Phone Interpreting

There are two main concerns with over-the-phone interpreting. Since the interpreter is not on the site, they can’t see the speaker. As a result, they can miss important non-verbal cues which play an important role in communication as well. The second major concern with over-the-phone interpreting are potential technical problems which can lead to serious misunderstandings. For example, there may be interruptions in the connection resulting in the loss of words that may go unnoticed by the interpreter.

Things to Consider Before Deciding for Over-the-Phone Interpreting

Over-the-phone interpreting is a cost-effective alternative to on-site interpreting and can be used to break the language barrier no matter if all speakers are on the site or not. However, there is a general consensus that off-site solutions such as over-the-phone interpreting should be used only when interpreting on-site isn’t possible for any reason. The main reason for that is due to the fact that the interpreter who is off-site can’t see the speakers. This increases the risk of misinterpretation which in turn can lead to serious misunderstandings.