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Poll: Do you prefer translating or interpreting?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:17
SITE STAFF
Jun 10, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you prefer translating or interpreting?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gordana Katic. View the poll results »



 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:17
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I think... Jun 10, 2014

I would love to get into interpreting but so far I haven't found the time for proper preparation. There are good courses not too far from my home town so I may try to make time in the future.

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:17
French to English
Interpreting Jun 10, 2014

Without a doubt, I much prefer interpreting. I like the challenge of thinking on my feet, finding the solution there and then and knowing that I have to get it right. That involves thorough knowledge of the field, enough at least to be able to find your way round a problem without the possibility of consulting a reference source. On simultaneous interpreting, you can find yourself listening to incoming speech, speaking a translated version of what you have just heard/are hearing and anticipating how to incorporate a previous idea in what is to come. It requires on-the-spot mental gymnastics and once it's said, you have to be on the ball to make up for shortfalls or mistakes. The intensity of the level of concentration is exciting.

After having done a fair bit of interpreting, I became interested in how the brain functions, started reading and it eventually led me to a research masters in biology and cognitive neuroscience, ab initio. I'm now studying psychology with a view to finalising my career change as a clinical neuropsychologist. None of that would have come about had I not had the opportunity to interpret.

Interpreting would not have come about had I not worked as a translator and established direct contacts with clients. For the time being, translation and interpreting have shifted into second position on the professional priority list, but are still present and always will be.

I have no formal interpreting training or qualification and there are areas of expertise in translation in which I would not be confident interpreting. Any interpreting job requires a great deal or preparation as you need to be familiar with the clients business and the way he works. On some conferences, I now know the participants so well that I know exactly what to expect and I can prepare even more efficiently in those circumstances.

[Edited at 2014-06-10 08:24 GMT]


 

Leon Ivanihin  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:17
Member (2011)
English to Russian
Strange... Jun 10, 2014

Hmm... strange statistics: about 50% of responders (for now) answered 'I don't offer both services'.
Well, I just would like to know: WHAT all these people do on this world largest portal of translators/interpreters?icon_smile.gif


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 02:17
Turkish to English
+ ...
Translating Jun 10, 2014

I used to like a bit of interpreting for a change once in a while, but as I get older, mental blocks become more common and I sometimes find myself in the embarrassing situation of being lost for words. I prefer not to do interpreting any more. With translation, you can stop and think whenever you like, and I find that my translation skills go from strength to strength as the years pass.

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:17
French to English
Interpretation Jun 10, 2014

Leon Ivanihin wrote:

Hmm... strange statistics: about 50% of responders (for now) answered 'I don't offer both services'.
Well, I just would like to know: WHAT all these people do on this world largest portal of translators/interpreters?icon_smile.gif


When roughly 50% of the 102 who have replied say they do not offer both services, that does not mean they offer neither, just one or the other. That is probably what they are doing on ProZ.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:17
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Translating Jun 10, 2014

Some of these answers are not mutually exclusive. I could answer 'translating' but I could also answer 'I don't provide both services' here. Logically, someone who prefers one over the other might choose to offer just one service.

I find the written word fascinating. I love to hide away in my attic room playing around with words on a page or screen. Although I do come out regularly to interact with people and reconnect with the real world, interpreting the spoken word is beyond my comfort zone. Unlike me, good interpreters are confident and quick-thinking with excellent interpersonal skills, and I have a great respect for them.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Both services vs either service Jun 10, 2014

Leon Ivanihin wrote:

Hmm... strange statistics: about 50% of responders (for now) answered 'I don't offer both services'.
Well, I just would like to know: WHAT all these people do on this world largest portal of translators/interpreters?icon_smile.gif


I think the responders mean that they tend to provide either one service or the other. For example, I mainly provide translation and text revision services, and only rarely do any interpreting. The skill sets involved are not necessarily the same.

I'm currently enjoying translation more than revision, because I find the latter more challenging (I mainly revise works by non-native authors, rather than the work of other translators) and less lucrative. And I haven't really done any interpreting for a few years now.

[Edited at 2014-06-10 09:53 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Harrowing experiences Jun 10, 2014

Tim Drayton wrote:

I used to like a bit of interpreting for a change once in a while, but as I get older, mental blocks become more common and I sometimes find myself in the embarrassing situation of being lost for words. I prefer not to do interpreting any more. With translation, you can stop and think whenever you like, and I find that my translation skills go from strength to strength as the years pass.


I know what you mean. I always found the "press on regardless" part of simultaneous interpreting very stressful and hated having to "wing it"...


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:17
Member (2006)
German to English
Translating Jun 10, 2014

Have tried interpreting and it was not my thing, worked out well, but...

This poll was also asked recently?


 

Alberto Montpellier  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
I replied translating, but... Jun 10, 2014

I sometimes long for some interpretation work, after being stuck in the office for long hours for many days. Plus, sometimes I serve clients for both activities, translating documents they need for some meeting and then actually participating in the meeting as interpreter, so what I may have missed in translation, a misinterpretation or whatever, I get the chance of correcting during interpretation, and viceversa. So these activities contribute to one another.

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:17
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Not my cuppa tea Jun 10, 2014

For me, it's either one or the other.

I think interpreters and translators are completely different animals - we use different parts of our brains. Interpreting is not for ponderers, which translators basically are. I hate being put on the spot and there is waaaaaay too much potential for this to happen in interpreting.

I've done interpreting only once and it was for a deposition(!). It was like diving into the wrong end of a swimming pool with lead boots on without an oxygen tank and no pool attendants around to pull you out. Talk about "harrowing." It was the proverbial "eight miles of bad road"!
This experience is etched indelibly into my brain. Never again, never, never, never!

Small edit
Corrected typo - definitely not on form today ;-(
Ho hum, another small edt


[Edited at 2014-06-10 15:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-06-10 15:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-06-10 23:32 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:17
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Translating Jun 10, 2014

After having been "commissioned" to interprete once at an event without any warning, and with the occasional interpreting work I did as an in-house translator, I've decided to "limit" my services to translations (among others).

Of course I'm always happy to serve as an interpreter if/when the need arises, though only on the private sector.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-06-10 12:15 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Different strokes Jun 10, 2014

Leon Ivanihin wrote:

Hmm... strange statistics: about 50% of responders (for now) answered 'I don't offer both services'.
Well, I just would like to know: WHAT all these people do on this world largest portal of translators/interpreters?icon_smile.gif


I see nothing strange about the statistics. First, translation requires a different skillset than interpreting, even though both careers or activities have to do with knowledge of languages. Writing well is not the same as speaking well and in immediate sentences.

Second, who told you that Proz is the world's largest portal of translators and interpreters?

Savvy translators and interpreters use more than just one web portal to promote their services and find customers.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Illustrative statistics for this poll Jun 10, 2014

The statistics for this poll are quite telling: the majority of professionals offer either translation or interpreting services but not both. There is a reason for that.

As Julian and Neilmac (and others) have pointed out, you need different skills and preparation for one role or the other. Given the fact, borne out by studies, that the brain changes with the studying and practicing of a foreign language, I believe that the brain of an interpreter is different than that of a translator in the majority of cases.

In fact, I am fascinated by, and equally surprised at, the mental processes involved in both translation and interpreting (they are not, I repeat, the same). I'm more surprised that no one in the medical or scientific community has taken interest in studying real-time brain processes that occurr during translation. I wonder, why not?

I prefer translating because I'm the analytical, careful writer type. I have done interpreting assignments in the past with little trouble, but I wouldn't be a good full-time interpreter.

I try to play to my strengths.

I also suspect that personality traits play into our choice of profession; I doubt that there are many introverts who are full-time interpreters.


 
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