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https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Difference between interpreting and translating

Usagiboy7
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Something I've been curious about for a while. ^_^

By defining both translation and conference interpreting as disciplines that allow multilingual communication, whether oral or written, we acknowledge that the common denominator is language. However, there are some important differences in the ways in which language is used. The written word requires quite different techniques from the spoken word, so that professionals from each discipline work in contexts that appear as different to each other as night and day. This is one of the reasons why it is rare to find individuals working across both disciplines. When putting pen to paper, the professional translator must express the source text’s ideas in the foreign language with precision, remaining faithful to the content, style, and form of the original. The translator is focused on dissecting a written text and scrutinizing it to identify its meanings, intricacies, shapes, and colours. It is an activity that requires time, reflection, and constant rewriting to ensure nothing is ‘lost in translation’.

Interpreters, however, are permitted a margin of artistic licence in order to overcome one of the major constraints of dealing with the spoken word: time, or the lack thereof. The interpreter must work quickly and demonstrate spontaneity, working both in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting modes (that is, translating while or after the speaker is talking). In simultaneous interpreting the interpreter must listen and speak at the same time, whilst in consecutive interpreting the interpreter must be able to listen, use specialist note-taking techniques, and reformulate the units of information in the foreign language on the spot.

In fact, it is this real-time comprehension, analysis, and accurate reformulation of one language into another that poses the greatest challenge. The interpreter is both listener and speaker, working in real-time, without a safety net, and with little room to correct errors. The simultaneous, or virtually simultaneous, nature of the work combined with a lack of control over the content of the original speeches mean that the interpreter performs his or her work in demanding conditions that leave little room for error.

Read more from the source here...

2 years ago

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor
Ontalor
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This is why translating has always appealed to me and interpreting has terrified me. Translating sounds lovely, I get to learn new words, take the time to get things right, whereas I feel like interpreting I would just fall on my face and panic.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KevanSF
KevanSF
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I'm with you. I do professional (ie paid) translation and I love it. I get to research and ponder and re-write and polish the final product in peace and quiet, and although there is always a short time deadline (a couple of hours) on my jobs, I always feel I have plenty of time.

The thought of interpreting scares me. If it was one-way interpretation (from my learned language to my native English) in a subject matter that I was familiar with, I could manage, but I'm not sure I'd really like it. But something like courtroom interpretation where you have to go back and forth between the two languages, with people staring at you waiting for you to tell them what had just been said, well, no.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Moomingirl
Moomingirl
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My thoughts exactly. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/halek10
halek10
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The dissecting and scrutinizing thing may hold true for literary translations, but my experience with other types of translation is that most clients want it (1) done quickly and (2) not to sound like a translation. A translator who takes too long pondering shapes and colors is not going to thrive amid the practical demands of the industry.

Better to spend time training early on to hone your instincts with rhythm and vocabulary so you don't have to think too much about it in the moment. Then again, I wouldn't even want to attempt to do literary translation -- it's a recipe for the same ongoing criticism and rejection on subjective standards that professional writers in general face :)

As far as interpreting goes, it's the memory load that intimidates. Ideally, the interpreter would already be an expert in the topic, so that everything she hears snaps into a coherent mental image that she can just relay appropriately. And in some settings, that is the case. More often, though, people will just hire generalist interpreters and then expect them to understand and remember everything, even when it's very abstract. It's the curse of knowledge at work: "It's so clear to me as the speaker; it ought to be clear to the interpreter."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SpracheShinobi

I totally agree with your bit about interpreters. While I am not personally proficient with the language, I was in charge of a group of Russian interpreters for nearly 3 years. There would be 3-20 hours worth of material each week, and we would have to do both simultaneous and consecutive translations at times. For about half of the material, we would get a copy of notes in advance, though sometimes just prior.

My job was training the translators, and keeping things organized. Essentially, I would just orient them with the processes we had found successful, and help them feel comfortable by working with an experienced interpreter for a while - like a safety net. But soon they work on their own. Then I would just keep schedules, lists of speakers, materials, etc. It got exhausting. Especially because we were working English-Russian and Spanish-Russian.

For quality of interpreter, I will always prefer someone who knows the material well over someone who know the language well. When you know the language, you might know words or phrases; but when you know the subject, you can anticipate certain descriptions or illustrations that would make your audience understand better. There are also few "foibles" that can be avoided, such as jokes or other references that the speaker might use, but cannot be translated into the target language. Even in simultaneous work, the interpreter can wait for a whole portion to be completed, and when they figure out the point of the joke/tale/saying, they can make up a suitable replacement in the target language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KevanSF
KevanSF
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  • 1237

You are right about the 1) quick and the 2) natural sound of the product.

What I do before I submit my translations to the customers (ie my final step) is to stop looking at the source.

I only look at my translation and I read it all out loud slowly. When you have to read it aloud, anything that is awkward or unnatural suddenly sticks out. Then I edit it without looking at the original to somehow make it sound more natural, more elegant without changing the meaning. Sometimes just moving a phrase or otherwise changing word order will fix it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/halek10
halek10
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I've got a whole toolbox of tricks that I use. I do Korean-English translation, and the basic approaches to information structure in the two languages (to say nothing of cultural factors) are so different that many native speakers of English struggle to produce something "nativelike."

My response to the article was probably influenced by the fact that I spent the first several years of my translating career painstakingly trying to respect the stylistic and linguistic choices of the authors, only to be told over and over again that it "doesn't sound like English." Eventually, I accepted that I would have to do some radical reworking and take some real idiomatic liberties, and things have gone much more smoothly since then. A big part of that, like you said, is not looking back at the original text once I'm confident everything is there accurately.

On the other hand, I still have some clients who insist on literal translations, even when I try to explain how awkward and alien it sounds in English. Oh well.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NukuchAjau

Interesting, thanks for the read.

2 years ago