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Some offer both, some only interpreting OR translation services. I do translations, if I like the text or for some of my permanent clients, yet conference interpreting is my main line of business. However, I tend to think that translating might be helpful, since you train your expressive and native language skills. Translating helps you learn how to slow down, makes you double think and has you work with utmost diligence. And: you can see/touch/admire ... your product, when you're done, because it will be around: published/online/handed-out and so on. Or am I wrong?

asked 15 Nov '11, 09:47

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LiA
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edited 15 Nov '11, 10:12

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Nacho ♦
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It's only a personal opinion, but I believe it helps tremendously to do translations in addition to interpreting assignments for at least a few years early in your career:

  • you'll become familiar with a few specialty areas that you're bound to encounter later at meetings.
  • you'll have more time to research proper terminology and if you're good you'll develop a working method to do it well
  • you'll learn how to use a computer and online resources properly (interpreters are notoriously bad at that).
  • you'll improve your writing - and overall language skills - in your native language

Especially, you'll be tapping into a rather different source of energy. As a translator you're a long-distance runner, as an interpreter, you're running the 200m hurdles. Unlike a translator, an interpreter does not have much time to exercise his or her long-term memory, which is why doing a bit of both is very complementary.

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answered 15 Nov '11, 12:14

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Vincent Buck ♦♦
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I think that the basic requirements are the same: proficiency in both languages (target and source language) and transfer competence in order to get a message from one language into the other one. Therefore, a good interpreter has all that he/she needs in order to be a good translator. If he/she isn't (normally interpreters who don't do translations will claim that as a reason), I think it's because he/she doesn't really want to do long distances.

For me, one of the main difficulties in translation (and of the main differences compared to interpretation) is that you have to decide when you deliver the translation. In order to deliver a translation you have to decide yourself, at some point, that the translation is "ready = good" now and that you are willing to give it to your client and therefore the world because your client will use it, hand it around, put it on its homepage... And: Let's not forget that a translation is, in fact, made for the eternity. It can survive forever and ever and the translator has to accept this.

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answered 16 Nov '11, 03:03

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Angelika
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edited 16 Nov '11, 03:14

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Vincent Buck ♦♦
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I agree. Translation and interpreting are complementary for all the reasons you have mentioned.

However, not all interpreters are good translators. It's really another discipline and you have to learn it, keep on training and cooperate with other translators.

Here are other reasons why interpreters work also as translators (Q&A in German):

http://interpreting.info/questions/190/wie-lange-muss-man-eigentlich-auf-dem-markt-sein-bis-man-vom-dolmetschen-allein-leben-kann

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answered 15 Nov '11, 10:12

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Angela ♦
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1

You say that "not all interpreters are good translators". Can somebody be a good interpreter if he/she is not a good translator?

(15 Nov '11, 10:17) Nacho ♦
1

@Nacho, I'd say definitely yes. I know plenty of excellent interpreters who are terrible translators (they happily admit it themselves!).

(15 Nov '11, 13:25) Michelle

...and if I may be allowed to give the metaphorical screw a further turn, can anyone be both an excellent translator AND and an excellent interpreter? Not just a good, competent professional, but that extra something? Aren't the temperaments required to excell in either calling too far apart for one single person to stride both?

(15 Nov '11, 16:50) msr

(cont.) For me, one of the main difficulties in translation (and of the main differences compared to interpretation) is that you have to decide when you deliver the translation. In order to deliver a translation you have to decide yourself, at some point, that the translation is "ready = good" now and that you are willing to give it to your client and therefore the world because your client will use it, hand it around, put it on its homepage... And: Let's not forget that a translation is, in fact, made for the eternity. It can survive forever and ever and the translator has to accept this.

(16 Nov '11, 03:05) Angelika

For one professional's view on the subject, check out this video. It's an interview with Thomas Harder: translator, interpreter and author.

VIDEO: Translation and interpretation: are they really the same?

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answered 15 Nov '11, 13:27

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Michelle
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Estoy de acuerdo con todos los comentarios - la interpretación y la traducción son perfectamente complementarias y es mutuamente beneficioso combinar ambas actividades. Cuando el traductor interpreta se beneficia porque se ejercita a mayor velocidad y tiene acceso de primera mano a los conceptos y a los autores; cuando el intérprete traduce se beneficia porque mejora su precisión terminológica y recupera la corrección gramatical. Además, en mercados como el de Sudamérica en la actualidad, para muchos intérpretes de conferencia resulta necesario económicamente tener una segunda fuente de ingresos, ya que la cantidad de trabajo de interpretación no es suficiente para hacer de esta su actividad exclusiva.

Si bien conozco una cantidad importante de colegas activos como intérpretes / traductores, parece haber más intérpretes que también traducen que traductores que también interpretan. Muchísimos traductores se declaran incapaces de interpretar, ya sea por la inmediatez o por los "nervios de acero" que se requieren del intérprete. En comparación, no tantos intérpretes se declaran incapaces de traducir.

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answered 30 Mar '12, 09:32

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Laura
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One who translates cannot necessarily interpret; one who interprets cannot necessarily translate. The two require completely different sets of skills and personal qualities as well as working environments. Many do both, many stick to one or the other.

I am a translator. I am very interested in interpreting but I lack the social skills to handle the profession with the same grace a professional interpreter needs. I prefer working in a quiet milieu of cats, musky books, thick dictionaries, and trails of coffee cups. Interpreters prefer being surrounded by people, evesdropping on conversations, being diplomats, and tackling the challenge posed by bridging two cultures in real time.

Yes, both professions involve the transposition of language, yet the two also differ in how that transposition is carried out.

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answered 30 Mar '12, 20:48

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jdecamillis
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edited 30 Mar '12, 20:50

Translation can also be extremely helpful for beginners especially when you are working between languages whose structures are completely different, such as between an Indo-European and a non-Indo-European language. Translating allows you to break the difficult sentences down and figure out the relationships of the words and to find elegant ways in the target language of dealing with difficult structures in the source language, especially when working into a B.

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answered 15 Nov '11, 16:41

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Sirpa
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question asked: 15 Nov '11, 09:47

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last updated: 30 Mar '12, 20:50

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