Post Editing: Interpreting versus translation

It could be argued that interpreting is the face of the translation and localization industry. Certainly, when outsiders think about translation, they nearly always seem to picture interpreters, duking it out against despotic evil in a United Nations conference interpreter’s booth.

This confusion between translation and interpretation tends to annoy both translators and interpreters, but it is nonetheless true that interpreters are the more publicly obvious of the two. Although the average citizen of many places has never heard of localization, he or she has almost certainly seen interpreters at work, either in real life or on television. Interpreting even makes front page news — at least if there’s a major faux pas made, and a diplomatic message gets derailed thanks to the wrong choice of interpreted words between heads of state.

Despite this, up until now, we haven’t had as much about interpretation in our magazine as other branches of the global language industry. But as Hélène Pielmeier of CSA Research points out in this issue, there is a growing interpreting market within the language services industry — something we should all be aware of.

Peng Wang of the University of Maryland covers some general ground rules for interpreter competence and practice. Angela Sasso of Shifting Pictures offers her perspective on community interpreting. Amanda Davies of Capita TI explains the situation in the United Kingdom in order to provide background for a discussion of interpreter costs. Cristina Silva of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies showcases a couple of smartphone apps that may come in handy for interpreters. More broadly, Emma Mas-Jones of Conference Rental gives an overview of the interpreting technology landscape.

Elsewhere, translation still rules the day in the pages of our magazine: Exequiel Klopman offers some tips on processing image text for translation and Gao Min has an article on open courses — free online courses available thanks to universities around the world from Oxford to Yale — and their translation in China. Daniel B. Harcz has a column on taking creative liberty as a translator and when this is appropriate and Frank Lin has another on the usefulness of what he calls “reverse immersion” in translation settings. Jost Zetzsche reviews Lilt, a new translation environment tool created by an industry outsider and currently still in the testing phase.

Of course, our industry does not actually divide itself along the lines of translation vs interpretation — the two combine, and the two branch out into broader subjects. Also in this issue, Jeannette Stewart looks at endangered language projects within the industry, and Mark Shriner’s Takeaway tells language companies how to find and market their unique selling proposition.