interpreter <between English and Spanish>

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Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi,

One of my uncles is an interpreter, his native language is American English while he speaks very good Spanish.

Can I say:

He is a consecutive interpreter between English and Spanish.

Thanks a lot
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, Silver.

    Your sentence certainly makes sense. You probably don't need "consecutive" because most interpreters handle simultaneous and consecutive interpreting tasks. If an interpreter waits until the source has finished speaking before trying to interpret the source's language, the interpreter is doing "consecutive interpretation".

    "Between Spanish and English" is very clear. However, if you are talking to somebody in China, you probably don't need to add that the interpreter interprets language from some other language into Chinese. It would probably be enough to say that he is "an English interpreter", "a Spanish interpreter", etc. If you are talking about an interpreter who isn't involved in interpreting into Chinese, then you might want to add the languages that the interpreter uses.

    Here in the U.S., it's common to say that somebody is a "Korean interpreter" to mean that the interpreter can understand and speak Korean. A listener in the U.S. will probably assume that the interpreter knows English.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Thanks a lot, Owlman5.

    Hmmm, you're right. I totally agree with you. I was talking to someone who is Chinese. So I must clarify that my uncle J is from the US and he does Spanish interpretation.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Your original sentence was fine if you were talking to somebody who speaks Chinese, Silver. He interprets English and Spanish. Or: He works with English and Spanish. Anything like this will be enough in that situation.

    If your listener is really interested in the topic, you can always add more: He mostly does simultaneous interpretation, but sometimes he has to do consecutive interpretation. She's a conference interpreter/a legal interpreter/a medical interpreter...
     

    xuliang

    Senior Member
    Chinese Mandarin
    Your original sentence was fine if you were talking to somebody who speaks Chinese, Silver. He interprets English and Spanish. Or: He works with English and Spanish. Anything like this will be enough in that situation.

    If your listener is really interested in the topic, you can always add more: He mostly does simultaneous interpretation, but sometimes he has to do consecutive interpretation. She's a conference interpreter/a legal interpreter/a medical interpreter...
    Hi, all. I am wondering if it's natural/common to say below:
    "He is an interpreter of English-Spanish. " (I said this to my friends, who are also Chinese. I think maybe this sentence is not good because in spoken English the hyphen can't be noticed.)
    "He is an interpreter of English and Spanish. " Would this be ambiguous if I said it to my Chinese friends (suppose they can understand English as well as native speakers)? I think this sentence may be misunderstood as "an interpreter of English and Chinese", or "an interpreter of Spanish and Chinese". (I intended to mean, he interprets between English and Spanish.)

    Thank you.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    He is a consecutive interpreter between English and Spanish.
    "Interpreter of" is not good, as that phrase means something very different. "an interpretor" is a commonly known occupation but "translator" is known by more.

    I suggest: "He is an interpreter, translating in both directions between English and Spanish."

    And "consecutive" is a technical term in that field, not widely known. I've been a language nut for 50 years now and I don't know it. If you want to add that part, it needs to be a separate sentence explaining what it means.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "He is an interpreter between Spanish and English" is fine if you mean somebody who, in particular, translates orally. More concise is "He is a Spanish-English interpreter." The original question doesn't appear to have been answered fully - the use of "consecutive" is an error, and I take it that Silverobama was referring to a "simultaneous translator". That is, a person employed to translate spoken language while it is being spoken. They are an essential part of all multi-lingual international conferences. A simultaneous translator who stands at a president's elbow could also be called a "simultaneous interpreter", but I think "simultaneous translator" is more usual for the translator sitting in a booth with headset and microphone.

    PS see next two posts :oops:
     
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    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hello, Andy.

    No, I did mean "consecutive interpreter" not "simultaneous interpreter". Once my dream was to become an interpreter.

    In China, both terms are used. The latter one is of a high level. Or put simply, simultaneous interpreters earn much more than consecutive interpreters.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi Silver. Thank you for clarifying that. I've never heard the term used, but it makes sense as a less-demanding task than simultaneous translation. I've now looked it up and discovered exactly what a "consecutive interpreter" is. Perhaps I should have done that sooner, then I wouldn't have written
    the use of "consecutive" is an error,
    :oops:
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "He is a Spanish-English interpreter."

    That's perfect. Why didn't I think of that?

    And I do hear the term "simultaneous interpreter" often. I just don't hear the opposite term "consecutive interpreter".
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    Please note that an interpreter interprets and a translator translates.
    Interpreter and translator are two different professions: An interpreter works with the spoken word;
    a translator works with the written word.
    The fact that many lay people confuse translator with interpreter does not make this incorrect usage right.

    I don't know any interpreters who would say "He is an interpreter between Spanish and English."
    "To" is the preposition of choice, e.g., "He is a Spanish-to-English and/or English-to-Spanish interpreter."
    Or, as suggested above, "He is a Spanish-English interpreter."

    "an interpretor" is a commonly known occupation but "translator" is known by more.

    I suggest: "He is an interpreter, translating in both directions between English and Spanish."
    "He is an interpreter between Spanish and English" is fine if you mean somebody who, in particular, translates orally. More concise is "He is a Spanish-English interpreter." The original question doesn't appear to have been answered fully - the use of "consecutive" is an error, and I take it that Silverobama was referring to a "simultaneous translator". That is, a person employed to translate spoken language while it is being spoken. They are an essential part of all multi-lingual international conferences. A simultaneous translator who stands at a president's elbow could also be called a "simultaneous interpreter", but I think "simultaneous translator" is more usual for the translator sitting in a booth with headset and microphone.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Will this sentence be interpreted as he can only do one way translation from Chinese to English:

    "He is a Chinese-Enlgish translator."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Please note that an interpreter interprets and a translator translates.
    Your distinction between the written and spoken word is not justified by usage or by dictionary definition. I agree that in current usage "interpreter" normally refers to oral translation (although historically that is not so), but it is incorrect to say that "translator" refers solely to written translation. There are specialist companies offering the services of "simultaneous translators" and others offering "simultaneous interpreters". Both do the same job, and the conferences I went to over several years had "simultaneous translators".

    Translator, from the OED
    One who translates or renders from one language into another; the author of a translation.
    Translate
    a. trans. To turn from one language into another; ‘to change into another language retaining the sense’ (Johnson); to render; also, to express in other words, to paraphrase. (The chief current sense.)
    b. absol. To practise translation; to make a version from one language or form of words into another; also intr. for pass., of a language, speech, or writing: To bear or admit of translation.
    There is no requirement in the meaning of the word for a "translation" to be written.
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    Sorry for the delay in responding. I have been "off the grid" for a while.
    Will this sentence be interpreted as he can only do one way translation from Chinese to English:

    "He is a Chinese-Enlgish translator."
    I think "He is a Chinese-English translator" could be interpreted either as he translates only from Chinese to English or as he translates from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese. In other words, there is the potential for ambiguity.

    If you wish to avoid any ambiguity, I would say either (depending on your intended meaning):
    He is a Chinese-to-English translator or
    He is a Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese translator./He translates from Chinese to English and vice-versa.
    Your distinction between the written and spoken word is not justified by usage or by dictionary definition.
    Professional translators and interpreters would disagree, as would the (serious and respected) institutions which train them, certify them and hire them. For example, the United Nations hires an interpreter (never a translator) to work with the spoken word. A translator is used to translate the written word.

    Dictionaries are beginning to come up to speed, though they aren't quite there yet.
    The American Heritage Dictionary defines interpreter as
    1. One who translates orally from one language into another.
    and translator as
    1. One that translates, especially:
    a. One employed to render written works into another language.
    (That is before they list the second definition of translator as "2. An interpreter.")

    I agree that in current usage "interpreter" normally refers to oral translation (although historically that is not so), but it is incorrect to say that "translator" refers solely to written translation. There are specialist companies offering the services of "simultaneous translators" and others offering "simultaneous interpreters". Both do the same job, and the conferences I went to over several years had "simultaneous translators".
    For professionals, "simultaneous translators" is a ludicrous misnomer which conjures up images of translators sitting at their computers, translating text as they receive it. I can't imagine any serious organization using this term (at least not in the U.S.) unless they are purposely dumbing it down out of fear that their target audience might not understand the term "simultaneous interpreter."
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Would anyone please be more specifc on "one-way" translator? I know some English and I want to translate an English book into Chinese, don't I need to understand both English and Chinese? How can I be a translator without knowing another language?

    For professionals, "simultaneous translators" is a ludicrous misnomer which conjures up images of translators sitting at their computers, translating text as they receive it. I can't imagine any serious organization using this term (at least not in the U.S.) unless they are purposely dumbing it down out of fear that their target audience might not understand the term "simultaneous interpreter."
    :thumbsup:
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    Would anyone please be more specifc on "one-way" translator? I know some English and I want to translate an English book into Chinese, don't I need to understand both English and Chinese? How can I be a translator without knowing another language?
    You can't. When we say that a person is, for example, an Arabic-to-English interpreter, we mean that the source language is Arabic and the target language is English. For many translators and interpreters, their target language is their native language.
     

    LanguageUser1234

    Banned
    English U.S.
    Would anyone please be more specifc on "one-way" translator? I know some English and I want to translate an English book into Chinese, don't I need to understand both English and Chinese? How can I be a translator without knowing another language?
    Of course one needs to know both languages, preferably very well. But except for those lucky people who, because of the circumstances of their birth and education are essentially native speakers of more than one language, most of us speak and write one language better than any other. And for most translators, that is the language into which they translate.

    Vladimir Nabokov was the exception, not the rule.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Thanks a lot, does this one-way translator doesn't translate the other language? Let's say I translate only from English into Chinese, never translate Chinese into English.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    For professionals, "simultaneous translators" is a ludicrous misnomer which conjures up images of translators sitting at their computers, translating text as they receive it. I can't imagine any serious organization using this term (at least not in the U.S.)
    Isn't that an important point? There's more than one variety of English.
    Professional translators and interpreters would disagree, as would the (serious and respected) institutions which train them, certify them and hire them.
    You seem to have left out the word "some":

    Train and certify (and provide):
    Translation Unit, Canolfan Bedwyr :: Simultaneous Translation Service "The Translation Unit provides a Simultaneous Translation service for the internal needs of the university."
    Aberystwyth University - Translation "We provide simultaneous translation for many events and we encourage departments to consider bilingual requirements when organising internal and external committees or meetings."
    Academic research:
    Segmentation of input in simultaneous translation Frieda Goldman-Eisler "This paper examines the events of the simultaneous translation situation. Parallel visual records of the input speech and of the interpreter's speech were used to investigate what is the length and nature of the segment which the interpreter needs to monitor before he can start encoding."
    Hire:
    UK-London: rugby world cup 2015 - media conference simultaneous translation & remote interpretation
    Provide:
    The British Library’s state of the art Conference Centre ... "The auditorium can accommodate up to 255 delegates, with facilities for simultaneous translation, film, sound and video presentation."
    Simultaneous Translation "We have a dynamic and experienced team of interpreters across Wales. All interpreters have passed Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru’s stringent simultaneous translation test."

    There are, of course, many organisations that use "simultaneous interpreter" and "simultaneous interpretation", but my point was not to dispute that usage. As I said, in modern English an "interpreter" translates orally but it is incorrect to say that "translator" refers solely to written translation, and your use of the word "ludicrous" is perhaps itself ludicrous, and also somewhat offensive.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    but it is incorrect to say that "translator" refers solely to written translation
    I basically agree. It doesn't always refer only to written translation. In a non-professional and non-academic context it certainly doesn't have to. Inside those contexts, however, it almost always does. I would say it's for the sake of clarity - you say "interpreter" if that's what you mean, and then "translator" is understood as being someone who translates written material. This distinction makes sense, since the fact that you're a good translator doesn't by any means mean that you will do a good job as an interpreter (as many people seem to believe).

    There may be some kind of US-UK difference here. According to Wikipedia:
    In the United States there is a preference for the term Translation and Interpreting Studies (as in the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association), although European tradition includes interpreting within translation studies (as in the European Society for Translation Studies).
    I don't know about it being a European tradition, though. I have myself been studying at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies in Stockholm.

    I'm surprised you found as many examples as you did, Andy. "Simultaneous translation" sounds unprofessional to me. I think most of the examples can be explained as
    purposely dumbing it down out of fear that their target audience might not understand the term "simultaneous interpreter."
    The academic paper is from 1972 and was published in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research; in current interpreting/translation studies I have certainly never seen "simultaneous translation" used.
     
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    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot, does this one-way translator doesn't translate the other language? Let's say I translate only from English into Chinese, never translate Chinese into English.
    That's right. A one-way translator translates from language A to language B. A two-way translator translates in both directions, A to B and B to A.

    Two-way translators are actually pretty rare. The recommendation is usually to translate to your native language only, unless your command of the other language is fully equivalent to that of a native speaker.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm surprised you found as many examples as you did, Andy.
    There are many more. Of course, there are even more that use "interpreter" and "interpretation".
    I think most of the examples can be explained as
    "purposely dumbing it down"

    I really don't see how that comment can be justified. If somebody was letting a Rugby World Cup contract which only specialist providers can fulfil, there'd be no point at all in "dumbing it down". Since the word "interpreter" is well-known, there's very little chance of a native BE speaker being in any way confused by the term "simultaneous interpreter" - although they might think it meant the chap who stands talking quietly into David Cameron's ear when he is meeting Vladimir Putin, unless the context referred to conferences. It's also the case that there are many examples like those I collected from Welsh universities. It seems that, for English/Welsh, simultaneous translation is a very common choice of terminology.

    It may well be that in American professional translation and interpretation the terminology is rigid. It is, however, the case that this rigidity does not appear to exist in BE, and it certainly does not exist outside the confines of professional translators' jargon. That is, in normal BE, "interpretation" is "oral translation", and "translation" is conversion from one language to another, both orally and in writing. I don't know how that goes for normal AE (as opposed to translation professionals' usage).

    I have myself been studying at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies in Stockholm.
    But that is, surely, a translation from Swedish to English, and thus represents Swedish usage, not English usage. :) I had a very quick look at British universities websites, and they appear to have Departments of Translation Studies whose courses include interpretation. However, I'm not sufficiently interested in the matter to undertake a detailed search.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    If somebody was letting a Rugby World Cup contract which only specialist providers can fulfil, there'd be no point at all in "dumbing it down".
    Agreed. Let's put it this way: I don't think there's any justification for ever using the term "simultaneous translation", when the unambiguous term "simultaneous interpreting" already exists. Wouldn't you agree about this? I'm actually really puzzled as to why it was used in this case, considering that "remote interpretation" is also mentioned.
    Since the word "interpreter" is well-known, there's very little chance of a native BE speaker being in any way confused by the term "simultaneous interpreter" - although they might think it meant the chap who stands talking quietly into David Cameron's ear when he is meeting Vladimir Putin, unless the context referred to conferences.
    I don't really understand this comment; that "chap" is a simultaneous interpreter!
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't really understand this comment; that "chap" is a simultaneous interpreter!
    Yes, I know he is. I'm following from the "dumbing down" comment. You and Language Hound suggested that dumbing down was involved. I don't think that an average BE speaker needs patronising, so dumbing down would be pointless, but if you were to say "I'm a simultaneous interpreter" an average BE speaker would probably think of David Cameron's interpreter, simply because an averagie BE speaker will never have been to a conference where translation is needed. That's the only reason a bit more context might be needed if you were referring to conference work.

    Wouldn't you agree about this?
    No, not while many British universities choose to use "translation" to mean both written and oral translation, and state that they provide "simultaneous translation".

    I am a retired physician. I know what "chronic" means in a medical context. For many years I accepted a very common misuse of the word by patients and didn't waste my time trying to correct their usage - I knew what the word meant to them. At least "translation" and "interpretation" both refer to language conversion - they are far closer than the actual and colloquial meanings of "chronic". I don't see any reason to try to change the way "translation" is used outside the professional world of translators.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Speaking as a translator and interpreter, I'd like to underline the points made above about precision. I have many colleagues (my wife is one) who only translate; interpreting is their idea of hell, and simultaneous interpreting is hell redoubled. And if you're a buyer for a company, it's absolutely essential to make the distinction, or you'll be paying for the wrong product.

    The location isn't a determining factor: I've done handwritten translating on a series of visits to a factory (the documents were too confidential and too bulky to allow off-site) and I've done spoken interpreting from my desk (via a three-way phone link).

    It's quite rare to do one-way interpreting; usually the client can't afford two interpreters, one French-English and the other English-French. However, in conferences where fast simultaneous interpreting is required we often work in pairs. This is not so that each one works one way only, rather to give each other a break - more than 15 minutes of simultaneous interpreting and you're in nervous-breakdown territory.

    I don't understand Andy's point in #25 that "an average BE speaker would probably think of David Cameron's interpreter, simply because an average BE speaker will never have been to a conference where translation is needed." The distinction is simply one of technology: the man at Cameron's ear could just as easily be twenty yards away in a glass box using a microphone, with Cameron listening on an earphone - the job is identical: simultaneous interpreting.

    I've met very few people capable of translating accurately out of their mother tongue. If you think you can do it, and you're not already doing it as a professional, think again!
     
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