Translation Trends 2012: memoQfest in Budapest
May 23, 2012
Interpretation Modes
Interpretation Modes
May 24, 2012

The Interpreter: a writer or a talker?

Last updated on May 5th, 2021 at 12:20 pm

When I went to see the movie The Interpreter starring Nicole Kidman in 2005 I thought that for sure, the role of interpreter versus translator would be clarified.  After-all, Nicole Kidman was portraying the main character and lots of people were going to watch the movie, right? The movie had a large attendance indeed, but, I believe, there is still a general misunderstanding about an interpreter’s job.

As an interesting fact, note that even in the descriptive caption of the video in YouTube, they described Nicole Kidman’s character as a “translator” when she is actually an “interpreter”, hence the name of the movie.

Wikipedia defines language interpretation as “the facilitation of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages.”  Oral is the keyword here!  The main difference is that interpreters talk and translators write.

Interpretation is not limited to changing-over a message from a source language; rather it is executing the act of interpretation in different ways.  These methods can vary greatly according to the job requirements including:

  • 8 interpretation modes/classifications depending on the setting (ex. conference, court, medical settings etc.)
  • 6 interpretation types/techniques used to perform the interpretation (ex. simultaneous, consecutive, etc.)  Interpretation can also take place on-site, by phone, or video.

Team approach to interpretation

Interpreters sometimes work in pairs due to the extreme demands of the interpretation process. While one interpreter speaks the other may take notes, and they take turns performing the interpretation.  This approach works best during an extended meeting where interpretation is required.

More than words

Interpretation is not a word-for-word translation.  Interpreters have a short window to perform their task, and there is usually no time for research.  They have to rely on their experience and skills for speed and accuracy. The interpreter must convey the most important aspects of a speech in the shortest amount of time.

Choose the Right Interpreter

The right interpreter can make all the difference in reaching your intended audience.  Preparation, training, experience, and areas of expertise are all things to consider when choosing your interpretation services to ensure you have the right outcome.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and has a BS in computer engineering. As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.