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Poll: Which is more challenging overall, translating or interpreting?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:36
SITE STAFF
Jan 14, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which is more challenging overall, translating or interpreting?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 11:36
English to German
+ ...
the poll is not justifiable Jan 14, 2006

because translation requires a totally different type of concentration and skill set as compared with interpretation. I shall expand on this later again. Best Brandis

[Edited at 2006-01-14 19:34]


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Atenea Acevedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fully agree with Brandis Jan 14, 2006

As discussed yesterday, these are two completely different professions requiring different skills and training. And of course, they entail different challenges.

Atenea


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diana bb  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 12:36
English to Lithuanian
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Surprised at the wording Jan 14, 2006

And yes, fully agree with Brandis.

Diana


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Allen Harris
United States
Local time: 04:36
French to English
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Comparing apples and oranges Jan 14, 2006

Interpreting is more challenging, but that's only because I translate. The flaw in the question is the word "challenge." The challenges of interpreting are apples and those of translating are oranges. How can we translators and interpreters compare them?

[Edited at 2006-01-14 20:13]


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Poll badly worded! Jan 14, 2006

You need at least one more option: I only do one of them, so I have no idea how much (or less) challenging the other one is!!!

It's like asking, What language is more difficult, French or Italian? What is harder, skiing on water or on snow? What is more challenging, scuba diving or ski diving?...


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:36
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
it's also the wrong audience Jan 15, 2006

Considering the results of the previous poll (0.1% of those who responded were "only-interpreters") it's obvious that most of us would find interpreting more difficult...

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Marco Oberto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:36
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Speed/precision: which comes first Jan 15, 2006

Also to me, interpreting and translation have a lot in common as well as a lot of differences.

Translation requires precision and speed; the opposite applies in interpreting: speed comes first, followed by precision

Asking for the most challenging profession sounds to me like asking a baby whether he/she prefers his/her mother or father.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:36
Flemish to English
+ ...
summum bonum Jan 15, 2006

Both professions consist in the transposition of concepts, but interpreting is the transposition of concepts into a target-language without means of help.
The words describing the concepts have to be in your head. You cannot take a break and look up a word in a dictionary.
You can not deviate from or distort the meaning of what the speaker says. All this in a split second.Therefore, it is more stressful. Interpreting is the summum bonum of the linguistic professions.
Moreover, unlike so many, you can not have been in another sector (e.g.engineering, banking...), quit your job and become an interpreter overnight. Unless you go throught one/two years of training of which the first two months you have the impression not to know anything of the target-language anymore, you can forget becoming an interpreter, who is capable to do both simultaneous and consecutive. The latter being a requirement at competitions for a position as an interpreter at international institutions.

[Edited at 2006-01-15 10:48]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:36
Turkish to English
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I can only speak with reference to my own experience Jan 15, 2006

I think it all depends on the exact nature of the translation and interpreting involved. There are obviously easy and difficult assignments in both fields. Based on my own experience, I voted along with the minority that considers interpreting to be easier. Most of the translation I do involves demanding legal and financial texts that are conceptually difficult and require research and a lot of thought before the content can be expressed both well and accurately in the target language. By contrast, I used to do consecutive interpreting in the UK for the Home Office and in public service situations. I always found this kind of work to be quite relaxing compared to translation as I was always dealing with colloquial language that presented no conceptual challenges. I also liked the way that everything simply dissapears into the ether as it were and there is no lasting record of your work that somebody can pick over later. However, I am sure that simultaneous conference interpreting where technical matters are being discussed is a different matter entirely.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Both are equally challenging Jan 15, 2006

I've done both for many years in a great variety of situations, and I voted that both are equally challenging.

I think Williamson and Tim Drayton have summed it up quite well, each situation has its great challenges. The only disagreement I would have is with Tim where he says he found it more relaxing to interpret. That may have been true for him given the nature of his work, but if you are working technical conferences and people are spouting off on esoteric concepts you can barely grasp, then you really start to sweat!

Both activities rely on the same knowledge base, but the skills required for each are quite different. Combining them both makes for an interesting life, and by the way, they really complement one another when it comes to picking up business!


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interpreting, of course Jan 15, 2006

I am a full time translator. However I don't need to interpret to know it is much more challenging.

Otherwise, just as an example, why is the 'interpreting hour' more expensive?

Also, I am sure interpreters won't have to be concerned with machine interpretation for a long, long, time.

Fred


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