Interpretive vs. interpretative

Erwin Pablo

Argentina (castellano)
Hi! I´m Erwin. sociologist from Argentina.
I'm trying to distinguish "interpretive" from "interpretative".

The sentence is like this:
"Artistic criteria focus on aesthetics, creativity, interpretive vitality, and expressive voice".

Much people translate interpretive as if it was interpretative. I think there´s a diference.
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary shows them as alternate spellings of the same word, calling both versions NamE (North American English).

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    In Britain "interpretive" is a variation of "interpretative" too.

    I think, though, that only "interpretive" is used in respect to computer languages.

    Juan del Acebo

    New Member
    Just for the record, a little etymological note:
    The word comes from the Latin verb interpret-are added to the suffix -ativus. There are many similar examples in English: meditative, demonstrative, representative, tentative... OED lists 194 words ending in -tative. Also having similar ending, though from a different origin are qualitative, quantitative and others.

    “Interpretative” and all its cognate forms in European languages, especially Romance languages which are more sensitive to Latin etymology, is the etymologically expected form. The appearance before 1653 of “interpretive” is rather the anomaly, but of course it's easier to pronounce, and as is often the case, American English has tended towards spelling economy; “interpretative” is more common in British English.

    To me, “interpretive” sounds as when in England the say “libry”, and we all know a “library” is meant. The tricky-to-pronounce repetition is discreetly omitted, and I don't think there are proposals to change the spelling. The Brits have an amazing flexibility when it comes to pronouncing the written word!

    I would give preference to “interpretative”, especially if you come from a Romance language and thus have a reason to stay closer to the Latin roots, which in English can often be an option. It might also delay, perhaps, the arrival of the day when our descendants will be saying “representive”, “demonstrive”, “quantitive” and so on...