A, B and C languages

These letters are used by interpreters to denote the languages from which and into which they interpret:

  • A language – mother tongue, the language the interpreter works into from all his/her other working languages
  • B language – a language the interpreter works into from one or more of his other languages, and, although not a mother tongue, a language of which the interpreter has perfect command; the interpreter also works from this language into his/her A language
  • C language – a passive language from which the interpreter works into his/her A or B language but into which he/she does not interpret.

Active Language

The interpreter’s active language is the language which he/she speaks and into which he/she interprets. Usually it is the interpreter’s mother tongue (A language) or, more rarely, another language (B language).

Consecutive Interpreting

With the help of his/her written notes, the interpreter interprets sections of the original speech or presentation into the target language during the speaker’s pauses. No technical equipment is needed, but this mode of interpretation is more time-consuming than simultaneous interpreting.

Head of the Interpreting Team

The head of the interpreting team is the person who will establish your needs, advise you on the most suitable type of interpretation, on the number of interpreters and language combinations required at your conference, and inform you about the minimal technical requirements. He/she will be in touch with the organizer and make sure that the interpreters receive the working documents in good time so that they can prepare for the meeting. The documents should include a list of participants, a detailed meeting agenda and all the texts that will be read out during the meeting.

Passive Language

The passive or C language is completely understood by the interpreter, who translates from this language but not into it.

Passive languages are those from which interpreters work and which participants may use when speaking at the meeting.

Relay Interpreting

Relay is indirect interpreting, in which the interpreter uses a colleague’s output rather than the original speech, and interprets into his/her target language. Since this necessarily leads to a greater delay in interpretation and increases the possibility of inaccuracies and errors, this type of interpretation is not recommended but is possible in situations where there are many working languages, and in cases in which the source language is a rare language.

Simultaneous Interpreting

The interpreter sits in a booth, listens to the presentation in the source language with the help of headphones and, speaking into a microphone, simultaneously interprets it into the target language, which the participants listen to using receivers and headphones.

Source Language

The language from which the interpreter works.

Target Language

The language into which the interpreter works.

Whispered Interpretation (Chuchotage)

Taking care not to annoy other participants in the meeting, the interpreter whispers simultaneous interpretation to one or two meeting participants who need interpretation to be able to follow the speech or discussion, and possibly join in with the help of consecutive interpretation. It should be kept in mind that chuchotage increases the level of noise in the room and is fatiguing for both the interpreters and the listeners. Generally, it is used only for very short meetings or parts of meetings, for one or two participants.