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Not all translators are interpreters and not all interpreters are translators.
Thread poster: cmmlws

cmmlws
India
Local time: 03:15
French to English
+ ...
Jul 20, 2013

Although strong foundation of the source and target language is a prerequisite for both, these terms, in reality, are poles apart.

Interpreters are often faced with time constraints and lack of resources as they have to do simultaneous or consecutive interpretation. On the other hand, translators not only have access to abundant references, but also enjoy the luxury of CAT tools.

While translators need to be accurate and precise about the content, they also have to convey the same effect that of the source language.

In my opinion, not all translators are at ease with the highly specialized skill of interpreting.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:45
Russian to English
+ ...
Most translators cannot interpret -- professionally Jul 20, 2013

Interpreting is a totally different profession -- requiring different skills, especially simultaneous interpreting. I think it might be easier for a highly qualified interpreter to translate, than for a highly qualified translator to interpret. There are some people who do both, but not that many, based on my experience.

As to CAT tools -- it depends what someone considers a luxury.

[Edited at 2013-07-20 10:14 GMT]


 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I am both Jul 20, 2013

I work as a translator and as an interpreter as well. I found out that my long experience as a translator helps a lot in the process of finding the right word while interpreting and keeps my brain well-trained. I enjoy both activities for different reasons.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:45
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
It seems odd to an English speaker that some languages only have one word for both Jul 20, 2013

"Переводчик" in Russian, for example, covers both. If you want to specify which it is, you have to use an adjective, e.g. "устный переводчик" (verbal translator).

Sorry, efreitag, you are quite right, I was forgetting "Dolmetscher" (my German is getting rusty!)

[Edited at 2013-07-20 19:28 GMT]


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
German/Russian Jul 20, 2013

Jack Doughty wrote:

"Переводчик" in Russian and "Übersetzer" in German, for example, cover both.


Jack, that may be true for Russian, but it isn't for German. The distinction in German is precisely the same as in English, the German word pair being "Übersetzer" and "Dolmetscher" for "translator" and "interpreter", respectively.

The difference may be that in English, the distinction is known to a wider public than in German.



[Bearbeitet am 2013-07-20 11:13 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:45
Member (2008)
French to English
Little understood Jul 20, 2013

The media has little understanding of the difference. In the recent tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Québec, some of the media faulted the rail company's unilingual American CEO for not having a "translator" at his side in the French-speaking town.

 

Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:45
English to French
... Jul 20, 2013

And the same applies to subtitling.

Not all translators are subtitlers, but to be a good subtitler, you must be a good translator.

I thought this was common sense/knowledge, but apparently, it isn't.


 

fbbest  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:45
English to Italian
+ ...
In Italian .. same confusion Jul 20, 2013

I agree with Lilian and cmmlws.

Interpreting and translating are 2 different professions. Both are wonderful, but they require different skills and bents.

Many people -also in Italy- do not know the difference of the 2 terms . They consider them as synonyms and keep on calling and interpreter a translator and viceversa.
Italian Language has 2 different terms which distinguish between written skills and oral skills.

Interpreter = Interprete
Translator = Traduttore

Kindest Regards


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:45
English to Polish
+ ...
Meh Jul 20, 2013

It's a function of the language you speak. In Latin, you could equally well calll a translator interpres, while in Polish tłumacz is one profession without a formal subdivision between tłumacz ustny (oral) and tłumacz pisemny (written). English or some other language that uses words based on two different stems here may be defining your perception.

cmmlws wrote:

Although strong foundation of the source and target language is a prerequisite for both, these terms, in reality, are poles apart.


Perhaps but primarily because of the short-term memory requirement for interpreters, as well as perhaps their need to be fast on their feet and vocally fluent.

Interpreters are often faced with time constraints and lack of resources as they have to do simultaneous or consecutive interpretation.


So are translators, especially in rush jobs. However, these days practically every translation job faces such constraints, requiring the translator to make the most out of the time available, i.e. do research for himself, proofread and edit himself etc.

On the other hand, translators not only have access to abundant references, but also enjoy the luxury of CAT tools.


Luxury of CAT tools? With all due respect but aren't you a beginner or something?

And you don't necessarily get abundant references. In fact, most of the time you don't. And if you did, you'd be expected to read them within the same rates that you charge for translation. No additional fees for reading 100 pages to translate 10.

While translators need to be accurate and precise about the content,


Interpreters also do, but they are more readily excused due to the constraints they face.

they also have to convey the same effect that of the source language.


Not much difference there.

In my opinion, not all translators are at ease with the highly specialized skill of interpreting.


Translation is also a highly specialised skill, and not all interpreters are good at translation. Translation requires more precision and fidelity than that with which most people can express themselves, much less convey someone else's ideas (after comprehending them with similar precision). If you spent your days on consecutive interpreting, you'd probably be more into summarising, abbreviating and paraphrasing when translating written material.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:45
Russian to English
+ ...
Well, although the word may be the same in Polish Jul 20, 2013

the professions have always been different, completely different and the distinction has always existed. The word "tlumacz" is usually modified: with either "tlumacz literatury", "tlumacz konferencyjny", or "tlumacz przysiegly" (mostly legal). It has never been the same profession.

There are many different issues with interpreting. Interpreting for very serious purposes has to also be very detailed and precise, since actually each word matters, or may even become the matter of life and death. One of the main issues is that interpreters must like public speech and not be afraid to appear in front of the audience, or speaking publicly to thousands of people, even if just through the headphones. They have to have really thorough knowledge of both languages, good memory, concentration, pleasant voice, not a very strong local accent, and be able to talk with the right speed, tone (quite impartial), loudness -- not too low and not too loud. They have to know most of the words used in everyday life in both languages, plus all the terms used in their specialization. There is no time to even think which word to use, not to mention checking any dictionaries.

[Edited at 2013-07-20 13:21 GMT]


 

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:45
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Not all interpreters are good at translating! Jul 20, 2013

Interpreting requires you to improvize and sum up the text (it's called just that) and, until very recently, used to - at least at the conference interpreting level - be general in nature (i.e. about reading up on the matter from job to job), with no genuine specialization involved, while (specialist) translation is about (meaning-based) accuracy and completeness of rendering. I know quite a few interpreters that are mediocre specialist translators.

Where translators can, in turn, do well is in new school specialist interpreting, where the memorizing and/or speech rhythm/timing requirements are not as sky high as in the traditional closed circle of (general) conference interpreting.

[Edited at 2013-07-21 10:22 GMT]


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:45
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
yes Jul 20, 2013

cmmlws wrote:

Although strong foundation of the source and target language is a prerequisite for both, these terms, in reality, are poles apart.

Interpreters are often faced with time constraints and lack of resources as they have to do simultaneous or consecutive interpretation. On the other hand, translators not only have access to abundant references, but also enjoy the luxury of CAT tools.

While translators need to be accurate and precise about the content, they also have to convey the same effect that of the source language.

In my opinion, not all translators are at ease with the highly specialized skill of interpreting.


Yes, and?

We all know this, so why are you telling us?


 

Yuri Radcev  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:45
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
interpreting is an exhausting job Jul 20, 2013

whilst interpreting, you do not belong to yourself. your mind is working hard all the time, you are under serious pressure and have no chance to stop and think a little bit, or have a small break.

translating is somewhat totally different in terms of "ergonomics", that is to say.
I have worked "in the field" for a good while, so I seem to know the difference.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:45
Russian to English
+ ...
Interpreting is not summing up -- absolutely not Jul 20, 2013

It is saying the same in another language under pressure -- of course there is no such a thing as verbatim interpreting. This is a totally wrong concept but the outcome meaning-wise has to be very close to the original. There is only verbatim transcription.

 

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 16:45
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Combo life Jul 20, 2013

I started as translator and then expanded to being an interpreter. I interpret for three Indian languages . (Some agency asked me am I ATA certified? Told I have been speaking for ~ 50 years long before ATA came up) mostly in medical domain. So my medical translation glossary has continuously improved my vocabulary, so I continue to improve my medical interpreting. I do general business/legal interpreting too, but every time the phone rings- it is adrenaline rush as to what the language will be and what glossary I should recall- as there wont be any time to browse thru glossary while interpreting. I do consecutive interpreting ;and in another perspective it is getting multiple streams of income. Once I finish a call of say 120 to 180 minutes, I am finished!!(fatigue due to the long calls). but hassle of proofreading, moving to TM , invoicing etc are not there.

 
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