The most common two modes of interpreting are simultaneous interpreting, which is done at the time of the exposure to the source language, and consecutive interpreting, which is done at breaks to this exposure.
Interpreting is an ancient human activity which predates the invention of writing. However, the origins of the profession of interpreting date back to less than a century ago.
Research into the various aspects of the history of interpreting is quite new. For as long as most scholarly interest was given to professional conference interpreting, very little academic work was done on the practice of interpreting in history, and until the 1990s, only a few dozen publications were done on it.
Considering the amount of interpreting activities that is assumed to have occurred for thousands of years, historical records are limited. Moreover, interpreters and their work have usually not found their way into the history books. One of the reasons for that is the dominance of the written text over the spoken word (in the sense that those who have left written texts are more likely to be recorded by historians). Another problem is the tendency to view it as an ordinary support activity which does not require any special attention, and the social status of interpreters, who were sometimes treated unfairly by scribes, chroniclers and historians.[note 1]
Our knowledge of the past of interpreting tends to come from?letters, chronicles,?biographies,?diaries?and?memoirs, along with a variety of other?documents?and?literary works, many of which (and with few exceptions) were only incidentally or marginally related to interpreting