Why do you prefer interpreting to translating?
Thread poster: vieleFragen
vieleFragen
Local time: 02:29
English
Jan 9, 2008

Is interpreting paid better than translating in general?

Obviously, in order to become a decent-great interpreter a lot more than 'just' knowing the language is necessary. The same thing is true for translating, but if I think of conferne interpreting, etc. it seems that interpreting might be a lot harder.

Ive read of interpreting rates of 500-600 Euro on this forum a few times. Obviously that would be a lot of money. But of course it's tiring and one can't work every day.

How many days/month does a full-time interpreter normally work? Is it sort of like interpreting one whole day and then two days of rest (as more is not possible if you want a good life)?

If I hear about rates for one day, does that mean you're not really interpreting for one day straight, but are interpreting for 40-45 minutes straight. Then get some rest (40-45mins) and interpret again for another 40-45 mins? How does this work? I hear no intepreter should interpret for more than 40-45 minutes straight, but on the other hand I also hear about working a full day. Can you please explain this to me?thanks!

Do interpreters ever have actual holidays? Or are your holidays simply whenever you don't have work (thus kind of chaotic)?

My main question, I guess, would be: Is life better for interpreters than for translators? (b/c of better pay & less monotonous?)

thanks!


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:29
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
It is just different, not better Jan 10, 2008

Interpreter and translator are two different professions. What is better translator or doctor? Just the same kind of question.
The fact: most interpreters do translations, vice versa not.

There are also two types of interpreting: consecutive and simultaneous. As a consecutive interpreter you can do it even 14-16 hours without a break (my experience), as a simultaneous one normaly 30 minutes, but sometimes 45 minutes or one hour, then a break. Yes you can earn even 800 EUR a day (not many of such days). Some lucky ones (or not lucky) work almost every day. You arrange your holidays yourself (You are still Freelancer).

You have to decide, what is better for you.


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xxxYamato
Bulgaria
Local time: 03:29
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
My two pences Jan 10, 2008

I agree with Erika in everything she said.

Wanted to add that staff interpreters at the UN work three and a half days a week. On top of that there is a number of hours they have to be ready to answer on call.

As Erika said, freelances freelance, just like translators, so they organize their own holidays.

I'm not sure about interpreting being less monotonous, there are many dull subjects too.

I don't think that you need "just" knowledge of languages to be a translator, much more is needed.
What is true, of course, is that an interpreter's training is way longer and harder.

[Editado a las 2008-01-10 14:42]


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Barbara Baldi  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:29
English to Italian
+ ...
Interpreters do it simultaneously translators take their time... : )) Jan 10, 2008

Hi, this was a sentence printed out on t-shirts at the Trieste school for translators and interpreters in order to make the "layman" understand the difference.
I would say, to start with, that the two professions are linked: they both deal with different forms of translation and they are normally both taught in the same faculty at universities.
Interpreters are better paid I agree, is this due to the stress? Is this due to the unsteady work flow? Is this because the layman is more impressed? I don't know.
In normal and correct work conditions you are supposed to work for half an hour and then rest for 30 minutes, your collegue work when you rest and viceversa. After some training you can go longer than that, but it is not recommended (not more than an hour). In the European institutions people can work every day, but you can certainly manage the initial stress. I hear on the free market collegues don't work much more than 110 days per year @ 400 - 500 Euros, but these are only informal data. Holidays of course vary according to your status: if you are freelancer you are you own boss. One thing I can tell you for sure is that there are peak seasons with 15 days per month, and after that you are (healthy but) tired.
In terms of fun, I would say that nothing compares to translating in your B language a politician's speech at full speed and doing it well (well yes, maybe windsurfing or other activities I can't mention on this forum : ))
Most of the time tough, there are a lot of boring meetings.
Translation too can be boring but it is good fun to translate and play around with synonims.
In Brussels I have often been regarded with suspicion as I am both a translator and an interpreter (the betrayer and spy). I started as a translator and studied 4 looong years to become one, so I think I have the necessary skills, but because of my nature, thanks to which I can be a fast intepreter, I don't like fussy boring documents like contracts for example. I prefer more creative stuff. This is to say that maybe interpreters and translators are all different and specialize also according to personal gift and interests. Legal interpreter at the Court of Justice might have more in common with precise translators as they have to respect 100% the initial text.
If you like adrenaline intepreting is for you : )


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Sandro C  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:29
English to Georgian
+ ...
I like both Jan 11, 2008

I do both interpreting and translating and I can't tell you what I
prefer more. For me translating is important in expanding my scope by
going deeper into things, doing more exploration on the
subject, etc. And it comes very useful in interpreting when I am
expected to make the best use of my knowledge in a sort of spontaenous way. On the other hand, interpreting gives me hints on where I need to improve, what I could work on more ,etc.

I would agree with Erika, that translating and interpreting are two
different professions. Apart from good language skills in general, interpreting
requires stronger listening comprehension, fluency, and pronunciation.
Some people have it inherently, and others who don't - take lot of
effort to develop. Many of my colleagues doing excellent translations
would never opt for interpreting thinking it is too much of stress.
For them interpreting is translating plus many other things -
communicating with the audience, concentration, speaking and listening
at the same time, etc..(even dress code) While many interpreters would say trainslating is too boring ....But in the end I absolutely agree with Barbara, if you are making a choice, consider adreanline !


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Patricia Baldwin
United States
Local time: 17:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interpretation fees are higher. Jan 11, 2008

Because I am a translator I can be an Interpreter. I rest when I work as a translator, I learn.

Translation is the balm, the vacation....I am all to myself and take my time to look up THE word ...I get to use all my dictionaries, glossaries, thesaurus, lists...I can use Trados, read my own work and even edit it before I submit my work. It is like one of those peaceful mountain hikes or treks, a swim in a peaceful lake, a journey within. Interpreting, is mountain biking or kayaking along the rapids.

I generally translate literary and business texts, articles, websites, handbooks....I have lots of time and I use it lavishly...I work from the comfort of my own office, bathed in the morning and late afternoon sunshine..the silence of the wee hours of the night. My trados, my own music, my herbal teas...Great!

Interpretation is the MARATHON. I am a court interpreter 4 days a week...I interpret absolutely everything that is said or read or written during court trials, depos, hearings, etc.

When I interpret simultaneously I do it FAST, some judges, district attorneys and lawyers speak 200 words a minute! Sometimes they stop on their tracks, look at me and say..are you guessing my next words?..are you a mind reader?!!!!

Well maybe we are! )))

When I interpret consecutively I have to remember everything said...whether the victim fell to the left, the right or forward... (this can make or break a trial and the defendant found guilty if I make a tiny mistake as to the interpreted facts).... scary!!!

And interpreters also interpret sight translations...i.e.: agreements, birth or death certificates, divorce or marriage decrees, power of attorney, probation reports... docs, docs, docs..translated in seconds and read out loud, no dictionary at hand, no notes, nada!

Adrenaline? More than that.....responsibility, ethics, the fact that we cannot get involved, sangre de pato as we say in Spanish, when we are interpreting a murder, or other horrible crimes.

And FAST...so fast that lately my throat gets so sore , water is not enough anymore. I have been starting to have slippery elm lozenges daily...great!


Interpretation is the jet.
Translation is the biplane.

Interpretation is jumping or walking the rope, no nets below.
Translation is ballet on the floor.

Interpretation is juggling.
Translation is playing the piano

Interpreting is daring, taking risks, performing
Translation is a craft.

It took me 8 long years of university prep to master all my terms and 20 years of active apprenticeship to produce very good work as a translator and intepreter. Years ago, I was a good interpreter and good translator - said my clients- today they say I am better.

So both are seasoned with experience.

Interpretation fees are much higher, per hour or per day.

Yet, I love both...with a passion.

[Edited at 2008-01-11 22:49]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:29
Flemish to English
+ ...
Walking on a fire hydrant Jan 16, 2008

To quote the leitmotiv of a business school near Paris: Interpreting is like walking on a fire hydrant. Much more the stress of the moment. If you accept to go for a night on the town with participants, you can have days from 9-23 hours, if not your day end at 5 or 6 p.m. whereas a translator's day only ends when the translation is finished.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If you accept to go for a night on the town with participants Jan 18, 2008

Williamson wrote:

If you accept to go for a night on the town with participants, you can have days from 9-23 hours, if not your day end at 5 or 6 p.m. whereas a translator's day only ends when the translation is finished.


... when they're drunk enough you'll find you need not have bothered interpreting


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vieleFragen
Local time: 02:29
English
TOPIC STARTER
So interpreters generally don't have the 'money' problem? Jul 14, 2008

I absolutely understand that everybody isn't born (or capable) of becoming an interpreter - and I'd like to find out if it is for me. Do you have any ideas how I could find this out? What 'natural skills' would I need to have (other than being able to achieve fluency or excellence in my language pairs)?

Today, I read that interpreters (simultaneous? consecutive?) had to listen to speeches of up to 30 mins and then translate it *after* listening to it all. I guess this would mean that one needs a superb memory. I think my memory is okay, maybe even good, but I couldn't imagine listening to such a long speech and then translating it "en détail" afterwards.

I understand that it must take a lot of practice to become a good interpreter, but listening to speeches of 30 minutes and only translating them afterwards probably doesn't happen too often? or does it?

Oh..and the main thing I'm wondering is..the main reason that has kept me from a career with languages is that the job market for translators seems to be very difficult for many translators. Obviously, a lot are doing fairly well, but in general what I've heard/read hasn't sounded too great, to be honest. I also think that interpreting would be more fun than translating, I guess.

So..is my assumption correct: Do qualified interpreters usually not have to worry about money too much?

I've read that even though interpreters 'only' worked say 100-110 days a year, they always had to read plenty of texts during the rest of the year in order to prepare for the meetings, etc. where they translate. I understand that everybody has to prepare thoroughly, but is this also a hard part of the job or is that part not that much work once you've been working in the field for a while?

thank you!


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 17:29
English to Russian
+ ...
Interprters have money problems, too. Jul 19, 2008

If you are doing languages not so much in demand (like Russian), then jobs come in waves. I got used of having my periods of "fat cows" and "thin cows", and do what biblical Joseph has done: when my cows are fat, I save for the day when they are thin.

That's why I study so hard to get my certification as a Spanish interpreter - then my cash flow will be even.

vieleFragen wrote:

I absolutely understand that everybody isn't born (or capable) of becoming an interpreter - and I'd like to find out if it is for me. Do you have any ideas how I could find this out? What 'natural skills' would I need to have (other than being able to achieve fluency or excellence in my language pairs)?

Today, I read that interpreters (simultaneous? consecutive?) had to listen to speeches of up to 30 mins and then translate it *after* listening to it all. I guess this would mean that one needs a superb memory. I think my memory is okay, maybe even good, but I couldn't imagine listening to such a long speech and then translating it "en détail" afterwards.


I believe you have been misinformed. Yes, you do have to have a very good short-term memory, but I don't think too many humans are capable of memorizing 30 minute speech. To pass the court exam in California, you need to be able to memorize about 40 words. This is doable with some practice.

Put your memory to a test: have somebody read a paragraph of about 40 words to you, and then try to repeat it. Then compare it to the original paragraph, and see how much have you retained. If you didn't miss much, than you have the ability. If you did, do not despair - memory can be improved with practice, but you have to be persistent.

I understand that it must take a lot of practice to become a good interpreter, but listening to speeches of 30 minutes and only translating them afterwards probably doesn't happen too often? or does it?


I never heard of it happening, period. The best you can do after 30 minutes speech is to summarize it, not to interpret it verbatim.

Oh..and the main thing I'm wondering is..the main reason that has kept me from a career with languages is that the job market for translators seems to be very difficult for many translators. Obviously, a lot are doing fairly well, but in general what I've heard/read hasn't sounded too great, to be honest. I also think that interpreting would be more fun than translating, I guess.

So..is my assumption correct: Do qualified interpreters usually not have to worry about money too much?


It depends on language combination, both for interpreting and translating. Some languages are in demand, some aren't. I think that for the interpreters the job market is more stable, as it is impossible to outsource on-site interpreting. Translation jobs get outsourced more and more to the countries where they can charge 3-4 cents per word - I certainly cannot afford to charge that little living in California!

I've read that even though interpreters 'only' worked say 100-110 days a year, they always had to read plenty of texts during the rest of the year in order to prepare for the meetings, etc. where they translate. I understand that everybody has to prepare thoroughly, but is this also a hard part of the job or is that part not that much work once you've been working in the field for a while?

thank you!


Again, depends on what kind of interpreter you are, as there are many different kinds. The most common are medical and legal interpreter (yours truly) and conference interpreter. As a medical and legal interpreter, I don't have to take my job home, unless I choose to. I'm constantly studying, but it's my own choice. I know many court interpreters who, once they pass the exam, only do the minimum required for continuous education (a few hours once every three years) and nothing else.

If you are still undecided, you might invest a bit into interpreting study materials (acebo.com has generic tapes - in English only, as I don't believe they have tapes for German-English combination, but they come with good explanation of what the three modes of interpreting entail), spend some time with them and see whether it's something for you.

Good luck, whatever you decide!


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:29
English to Chinese
+ ...
Interpret VS translate Aug 24, 2008

Many people prefer to interpreter, if one speaks fluent foreign language, he/she may earn more money than a translator typing in front of a computer all the times. But an interpreter has age limitation, no people like to hire a "grandfather" or "grandmother" to work except for an experience-required case; by contrast, a senior people translates behind the scene, the age is not a problem.

[Edited at 2008-08-24 07:57]


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