Link: Translator = Interpreter?

For a great illustration of the terminology issue we run into quite frequently, head over to read Mox and Mina's translation adventures on Alejandro Moreno-Ramos' blog. The difference between translation (the written word) and interpretation (the spoken word) is something linguists frequently have to explain to customers and the general public. The mainstream media can't get it right, either: NPR constantly refers to "she is talking through her translator" when reporting from Iraq, and MSNB doesn't understand the difference. Let's look at this general confusion as a great opportunity to educate clients about the lingo used in our business. And instead of an explanation, how about a great cartoon?


Michael Schubert on February 10, 2010 at 9:52 AM said...

Thank you for your blog, which I enjoy following! :-)

I don't understand this frequently heard complaint about the supposed misuse of "translator" to mean an interpreter. "Translator" has both a specific (written) and general (written + spoken) connotation. ("Interpreter" is specific to the spoken word, of course.) This same relationship applies to "übersetzen" and "dolmetschen." In the title "American Translators Association," the general connotation is meant. Someone who both translates and interprets can say simply, "I am a translator." And I'm sure NPR knows that. Clients and laymen do know the difference between spoken and written translations. They may simply be unaware that some of us do one and not the other. And we can forgive them for using the catch-all term to mean both or either!

Nic loves languages on February 11, 2010 at 2:00 AM said...

Hi Judy and Dagmar. Yes, I saw that the other day (yesterday maybe??) and liked it. It was good to see your names below. Congrats on the idea.
Nic at Crosslingo

Translation Agency on February 26, 2010 at 12:33 AM said...

Dear Michael,

I agree what you are telling. But Many of the translators never like doing Interpretation without any reason. We have faced these kind of cases in the past. Why So?

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