Translation or Interpretation ?

July 2, 2016

By Liliane Nakad

Translation or Interpretation?

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Sometimes people tend to refer to Interpreters as “translators” and that is because they not always aware of the difference between the two professions. How are they different?

An interpreter conveys a message from one language to another, works with spoken words in a particular context, while a translator transfers a written text from one language to another.

Interpretation is spoken, translation is written. Interpretation therefore makes use of particular linguistic resources: the original speaker’s ideas are transmitted as spoken words, with a particular rhythm and intonation, making use of rhetorical devices and gestures to better covey the message.

Interpretation is carried out in real time (simultaneously) or very close to it (consecutively). The interpreter has no time to refer any written resources available to translators. This makes preparation before each assignment a paramount for an interpreter.

Another constraint is the extreme speed at which the interpreter has to receive, understand, manage, reconstruct information and convey the message in a different language. A translator may translate 2000-3000 words a day, while an interpreter has to keep up with around 150 words a minute.

Apart from this, translators often spend a long time working on one text, while interpreters, often working in a team of two in one cabin or “translation booth”, are faced with people speaking and communicating simultaneously.

Therefore Interpretation is not really a linguistic profession as an information and communication profession.

Conference interpreting

Interpreters have always been involved in the development of international trade and cultural exchange.

Conference interpretation is practiced at international summits, professional seminars, and bilateral or multilateral meetings of heads of State and Government.

Conference interpreters also work at meetings between chief executives, social and union representatives, at congresses and meetings too.

It’s all about focus and professional confidentiality

Whether they are freelance or staff, interpreters always have to deliver.

They have to be rigorous, not only in terms of getting the message across, but also in their everyday professional practice.

A professional conference interpreter is always well-prepared, is never late (even if the conference participants are), and above all has an absolute obligation to respect professional confidentiality. interpreter