Language Translating Jobs
Both interpreters and translators fill necessary roles in today’s global economy. They facilitate cross-cultural communication by transposing one language into another. Quality translators and interpreters do more than just translate words, they convey meaning and concepts into another language and culture. As such, quality translators and interpreters are not only bilingual, they are also culturally literate when it comes to the languages/cultures they are translating between.
To this end, many translators and interpreters have spent extended periods of time in other countries learning not only other languages, but also the cultures that correspond to them. Moreover, they are knowledgeable in a variety of subject matters and possess a wide and sometimes very specialized vocabulary in both languages depending on the type of translation or interpreting they do.
Translators and interpreters work in many different fields and industries, including business, culinary, marketing/public relations, science, education, academia, film, visual arts, music, history, engineering, health, legal, social sciences, and non-profit work. Frequently, translators and interpreters select a few areas of specialty. Often, these areas of specialty will expand over time, meaning that one translator or interpreter could become an expert in multiple fields.
The Difference Between Translators and Interpreters
Though there are many language specialists who are both interpreters and translators, these roles are different. Interpreters work with the spoken word and translators work with written texts. Each job requires a different set of skills. Moreover, due to personality, certain people are suited to translation and others prefer interpreting.
Interpreters transform one spoken language into another. Effective interpreters must be completely fluent in both languages. They must also pay careful attention to what is being said and quickly and accurately relay the message in the other language. Therefore a high level of mental dexterity and concentration is required as well as a strong memory. Interpreters must be comfortable working with other people for extended periods of time, whether face- to- face or via phone or video chat.
There are two main types of interpreting – consecutive and simultaneous. When interpreting simultaneously, interpreters must listen and speak at the same time the source speaker (the person speaking what is being translated) is talking. Typically, interpreters are well aware of the subject matter (or even exactly what will be said) before the event so they can anticipate certain registers of vocabulary. Because simultaneous interpreting is mentally taxing and requires much concentration, interpreters often work in pairs or teams of 3, taking “shifts” of 30 minutes or less. Simultaneous translation is often used for conferences, conference calls, speeches and in courtrooms.
Less immediate than simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting is done after the source speaker has finished several sentences. Some consecutive interpreters take shorthand notes to help them remember what has been said. This type of interpreting is often used for doctor/patient or lawyer/client meetings, parent/teacher conferences, or international business interactions.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the consecutive interpreting I’ve done for psychological evaluations in schools and parent/teacher conferences. Most of the work I have done has been with West African families who have recently moved to the school district. Sometimes I am asked to translate everything and other times I’m there just in case a certain question or comment needs clarifying. The job is diverse and challenging. It’s very fulfilling to help parents access the appropriate resources for their children and to help educational staff understand how best to serve the student,” says Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, French Translator and Interpreter, Lucidité Writing LLC.
Translators take written material in one language (called the source language) and convert it into the other (called the target language). Not only do they have to be fluent in both languages, they must also have excellent writing skills in both languages.Because their translations must be completely accurate, they also have to be good at self-editing.
Translating is more than just replacing a word with the corresponding word in the other language. The ideas contained in the source document must be conveyed with the same fluidity and meaning in the translation. Translators must always be cognizant of cultural references that should be explained to the readers of the translation. Moreover, good translators smooth out and render comprehensible any colloquialisms or slang in the target language. In most cases, translations often go through multiple revisions before a final text is submitted.
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Translators typically work alone, but can also work in groups for large translation projects. Literary translators frequently work closely with other translators or with the author of the original text. There are many different types of translation, including film, literary, academic, business, and machine-assisted translation.
“Both translation and interpreting are arts rather than exact sciences. When one considers the amount of interpersonal, cultural, social, linguistic, etc. knowledge involved, it is clear that translation and interpreting are some of the most complex functions of the human brain,” says Bouchard.