The One-Million-Dollar/Euro Question

‘Tell me: Your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles say that you are a Translator & Conference Interpreter. Is there a difference?’

The answer is ‘Yes, there is’.

Let’s put it simply: these two job descriptions have about one thing in common (apart from adrenalin production). They deal with languages. Translation is the process whereby a statement in one language is converted into a statement having -hopefully and ideally- the same meaning in another language. That may sound boring as a definition, but some brilliant colleagues are authoring real PhD’s on the subject.

Human beings have more than one way of communicating. The two that are involved in ‘translation’ are the written word and the spoken word. Written words are translated, spoken words are interpreted. It’s as simple (apparently) as that. We navigate between two languages, but for each job, we use different mental patterns, different techniques, and we are submitted to different time constraints.

Imagine a translator with a 30,000-word manual needed next week. She may be typing away at her keyboard, feeding the text to a machine translation system, dictating it, whatever. If she is tired or bored, she can get up and get herself a cup of coffee.

Now imagine an interpreter faced with a PowerPoint presentation on the private life of some newly-found microcellular organism, delivered at Eurostar speed, in front of a 500-strong audience. See the difference? I don’t mean that the translator is working at a leisurely pace. She has a deadline to meet, so she can’t afford to waste any time, but the type of pressure is different.

Now, the one-million-dollar question: can you really be both?

My answer is Yes. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to develop these very different skills. I love trying to catch up with the Eurostar, and I love working from the comfort of my home office.

View Nadine Touzet's profile on LinkedIn


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One Response to “The One-Million-Dollar/Euro Question”

  1. A Good Year After All « “la parole exportée” Says:

    […] with translation work, although I find it increasingly difficult – age must be the reason – to combine these two very different intellectual activities within the same […]

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