Poll: Being a good translator does not necessarily mean being a good interpreter and vice versa.
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:26
SITE STAFF
Jan 3, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Being a good translator does not necessarily mean being a good interpreter and vice versa.".

This poll was originally submitted by lilianleelala

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


 

Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:26
Member (2006)
English to French
I agree Jan 3, 2010

Translator and interpreter are two different jobs involving differents skills.

 

Abdulvahed  Identity Verified
Iran
Local time: 20:56
English to Farsi (Persian)
presense of mind -limitation of time Jan 3, 2010

presence of mind and limitation of time are the main cause to make the two different with each other.Translator has often more time than interpretor to think about words and his working fields are usually more diverse than that of interpretor.

 

polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
some people may be good at both Jan 3, 2010

but it is not automatic. I know some very good translators who are (self-confessed) lousy interpreters and vice versa.
There have been quite a few articles written on the subject


 

Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 21:56
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Depends on the language in question Jan 3, 2010

Though I voted "agree", in languages such as mine - Gujarati, the written Gujarati differs in style and to some extent in the syntax of spoken Gujarati.

 

Tina Kocevar Donkov
Slovenia
Local time: 18:26
Slovenian to English
+ ...
I agree Jan 3, 2010

It's like night and day.

 

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:26
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
I'd say most brilliant interpreters are also very good at translating (if they do it and they...) Jan 3, 2010

... have the IT/CAT/researching skills needed for it. But this doesn't apply the other way round.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same knowledge, different skills Jan 3, 2010

Translating and interpreting involve the same knowledge base but different skills, and they also complement each another. I have been doing both since the beginning, but I have many colleagues who do only one and not the other. It also has a lot to do with each person's personality. Some like the human contact that interpreting provides, while others prefer the isolation that prevails with translation.

Neither job is easy. An interpreter has no time to stop and look things up, but on the other hand, an interpreter's mistakes are often not noticed and they just "fly away" immediately. A translator has the luxury of being able to look things up and think about them, but once it is made, a translator's error remains on the page for all to see forever.


 

JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 12:26
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Personal traits count, too. Jan 3, 2010

Sebastian Witte wrote:

I'd say most brilliant interpreters are also very good at translating (if they do it and they have the IT/CAT/researching skills needed for it.) But this doesn't apply the other way round.


Since you say "most," I won't disagree with you. But the best interpreter I've ever seen is also a translator. She has tons of skills, but she has a nervous, impatient temperament. I've edited her translations. The terminology is always accurate (except for an occasional "howler" when she obviously skimmed the original and misread it), but there are always typos and syntax errors galore--even omissions. She simply hasn't the patience for the tedious, meticulous work of translation, but in court or at a conference, there's no one better.

I, on the other hand, am very anal about every word and comma in my translations. In the footnotes, I verify every single author's name and all the bibliographic data. I can spend an hour on a single phrase, tracking down that one perfect word that I know exists somewhere. And I'm a very good (I won't make claims to "brilliant") translator. But ask me to interpret, and I'm an instant basket case.

As you say, most brilliant interpreters can also translate well.
But this doesn't apply the other way round.


I think that's totally accurate.


Jane


 

Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 09:26
English to Russian
+ ...
Not necessarily, but... Jan 4, 2010

I am one of the few who clicked on "other", because I think it's not a black and white issue.

No, being good interpreter doesn't automatically make you a good translator (and vice versa), but it helps in both cases.

If you are dealing with a specific subject area (such as medical or legal field), you acquire a specific terminology related to that field, and it helps both in translating and interpreting. The word you need effortlessly comes to you when you need it, because you had been searching for this word before. And this is true for both translating and interpreting.

For example, I frequently interpret in one hospital in Los Angeles, and I also periodically do translations for the same hospital. And when I do their translation projects, I can visualize what's going on inside the hospital (I've been there so many times!), and helps me greatly with the translation. On the other hand, doing these translation projects improve my skills as an interpreter, because I learn so much with each one of them.

In my opinion, even though these two jobs - translating and interpreting - require a different set of skills each, these two set of skills frequently overlap each other.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Absolutely! Jan 4, 2010

For many years most of my friends were interpreters. Some of them are excellent translators, but others don't have the patience. One quality that many of them share is the ability to grasp the larger idea and make the point effectively without falling into rote word-for-word translation.

It goes without saying that many translators could not be interpreters. It takes a very special knack to be able to "split" the brain and listen while speaking. And you have to think very quickly on your feet.I taught translation at Georgetown Univ., and they had many strategies for developing these skills, but some people who were good translators just couldn't get the hang of it.


 

Adam Monteith  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
From Trans to 'Terp Apr 14, 2010

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

It goes without saying that many translators could not be interpreters. It takes a very special knack to be able to "split" the brain and listen while speaking. And you have to think very quickly on your feet. I taught translation at Georgetown Univ., and they had many strategies for developing these skills, but some people who were good translators just couldn't get the hang of it.


Also, and not meaning to make interpreting sound less professional than translating, but... as a translator, I let my perfectionism and obsession with "perfect" communication come out and play. As a court interpreter, I sometimes have to spit out the first suitable word that comes to mind, even if it's not perfect as to tone, register, etc. Our judges value accuracy of interpretation, but they also value efficiency. If I couldn't set that perfectionism aside (as many perfectionists don't feel like doing) and keep up with the court, I couldn't interpret effectively. Of course, I don't sacrifice meaning, but some of the polish* just has to be left off. For an even more dramatic example, I used to volunteer as a medical interpreter, including one visit to the ER. Definitely nothing unprofessional about spitting the words out and moving on when a patient is in pain and the doctor is trying to figure out how to help (though again, that only relates to leaving off the polish;* accuracy of meaning is essential).

Saltamonte

*Not to be confused with Polish, which I do not speak.icon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2010-04-14 19:47 GMT]


 


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