Poll: Which do you think is more difficult/demanding: translating or interpreting?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:29
SITE STAFF
Jul 22, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which do you think is more difficult/demanding: translating or interpreting?".

This poll was originally submitted by Firas Allouzi. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interpreting Jul 22, 2015

Interpreting is by far the most difficult and/or demanding. When interpreting you really are on the spot. In fact, apart from the fact that they both involve transforming utterances and ideas from one language into another, I think the two disciplines are actually quite different, involving quite different skill sets.

 

Billh
Local time: 20:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Being partly deaf Jul 22, 2015

I have avoided interpreting.....

 

Nigel Greenwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:29
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I fully agree... Jul 22, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Interpreting is by far the most difficult and/or demanding. When interpreting you really are on the spot. In fact, apart from the fact that they both involve transforming utterances and ideas from one language into another, I think the two disciplines are actually quite different, involving quite different skill sets.


I do more interpreting work than translating, and the main difference is that, while interpreting, you have no time for checking in dictionaries, glossaries, etc., you have to give the correct translation immediately, and make sure you do not make any mistakes. In some cases, mistakes can involve serious damages...

Regards,

Nigel.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:29
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No idea: I've only provided one of these services! Jul 22, 2015

I think translators and interpreters have different types of brains – and interpreting is not my cup of tea. I love choosing my words carefully and taking the time to search for the right word when translating instead of the immediacy of interpreting. So, I do prefer the written sibling!

 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:29
Danish to English
+ ...
Translating Jul 22, 2015

I trained for both, but have ended up doing translation only. However, I absolutely loved interpreting, and that was always what I wanted to do... Hmmm... time for a career change?

As others have said, these are two completely different sets of skills. I used to think (still do, actually) that interpreting is much more intuitive than translating. It's almost like you skip some stage in the conversion process, i.e. go from one tiny part of the brain directly to another, but with the two parts running in parallel, never word-by-word, but sentiment by sentiment. I.e. you hear language 1 and don't even stop to think about how to convert that into language 2, it has to come out instantly as if you were simply repeating what you just heard, only in language 2.

At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest, I would also dare to say that either you've got the knack for interpreting or you haven't. Translating can be learnt through hard work, research and lots of experience, and then you can become an excellent translator, but to be a really good interpreter, you need to have an intuitive understanding of both source and target language, simply because there is so little time to think before you have to deliver.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Apple and orange Jul 22, 2015

Seat of the pants vs fine craftsmanship

One's more intuitive, one's more skilled


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:29
Hebrew to English
Couldn't agree more Jul 22, 2015

Chris S wrote:

Seat of the pants vs fine craftsmanship

One's more intuitive, one's more skilled


And couldn't have said it better myself.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:29
Danish to English
+ ...
Me too, and me neither Jul 22, 2015

Ty Kendall wrote:

Chris S wrote:

Seat of the pants vs fine craftsmanship

One's more intuitive, one's more skilled


And couldn't have said it better myself.


Much more eloquent than my (translator's) attempt at defining the difference. icon_biggrin.gif


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I think Gitte is right Jul 22, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:

...

As others have said, these are two completely different sets of skills. I used to think (still do, actually) that interpreting is much more intuitive than translating. It's almost like you skip some stage in the conversion process, i.e. go from one tiny part of the brain directly to another, but with the two parts running in parallel, never word-by-word, but sentiment by sentiment. I.e. you hear language 1 and don't even stop to think about how to convert that into language 2, it has to come out instantly as if you were simply repeating what you just heard, only in language 2.

At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest, I would also dare to say that either you've got the knack for interpreting or you haven't. Translating can be learnt through hard work, research and lots of experience, and then you can become an excellent translator, but to be a really good interpreter, you need to have an intuitive understanding of both source and target language, simply because there is so little time to think before you have to deliver.



Interpreting terrifies me!

I did once look into it, many years ago when living in Copenhagen. I saw an ad recruiting interpreters for what was then the EC, and I went for a test. They really wanted Danish native speakers, but as there was a quiet moment, they tested me anyway, and said they could note my particulars if they needed an English native later.

However, we did not get very far with it. I don't remember any details, but was told 'You are probaby one of those people who gets good results at school, but spends every available minute on your translation in exams. You don't leave the room early.'
Absolutely true. The verdict was 'Don't be put off if you want to do written translation work. But you are not really the type to be an interpreter."

My son could interpret at a young age, even without training, so there may be at least some intuition in it, but I can't do it to save my life!


 

Duran Davis  Identity Verified
Bahamas
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interpreting Jul 22, 2015

I think interpreting is by far the most difficult because you have to pay extremely close attention to different accents that can sometimes be quite difficult to comprehend. An interpreter is almost expected to know everything due to being unable to check dictionaries, glossaries, etc. I think the profession of interpreting requires intense preparation, and most importantly, intense, regular practice and maintenance. I love that it keeps on disciplined and occupied though.icon_smile.gif

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 14:29
German to English
+ ...
They are different professions Jul 22, 2015

requiring a different set of skills.

 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sister professions Jul 23, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Interpreting is by far the most difficult and/or demanding. When interpreting you really are on the spot. In fact, apart from the fact that they both involve transforming utterances and ideas from one language into another, I think the two disciplines are actually quite different, involving quite different skill sets.


Working with the spoken word is extremely different than handling written texts. Well said, Neilmac.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:29
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Interpreting Jul 23, 2015

Even though I interpreted only on very few occacions (not on a professional level), it sufficed to acknowledge the fact that interpreting is far more difficult than translating, though they are two different professions. Translating allows you to proofread your translation and eliminate any errors. This is impossible while interpreting. As it say: A spoken word can never be revoked.

 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:29
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Interpreting, no doubt Jul 23, 2015

The interpreter has to do all the translation immediately, without any dictionary, Google, or reference whatsoever. The interpreter does not work in a comfortable seat in front of their computer, with cofee breaks, and the regime that best fits them. They have to work with people they do not know, in an environment that may be hostile (to a certain extent), and people who are evaluating them immediately and constantly. With much less time to convert, no references, and all these additional issues, are there any doubts?

I work 95% with translations and 5% with interpretation. I don't offer myself to interpretation jobs, and many times I refuse such jobs when I have a full agenda of translations. I think an interpreter would have a hard time translating the highly techical documents I translate. Nevertheless, I recognize that their job is a lot harder and more inconvenient in many aspects than mine.

Thank God I'm a translator and not and interpreter.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: Which do you think is more difficult/demanding: translating or interpreting?

Advanced search






CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search