Interpreting gone?

I think people are not really using the word "interpreting" anymore. It seems that they're using "translating" to mean both interpreting and translating.

For instance, I told some people that I don't speak a certain language well, but I translate it. They kept asking me how I can do it, and I explained that reading it is easier than speaking it. But it still didn't make sense to them, so they kept asking me how and why. Then it dawned on me: they thought I was talking about interpreting but were using the word "translating," so I explained the difference: that I was talking about translating, ie, the written word, not interpreting, ie, the spoken word. They finally understood.

I've also heard the word "translator" when people describe someone's profession--even though they're an interpreter. I've heard this from all types of people and even in the media. It's wrong, but I think it's easier for people to use that word than think too hard about how the words apply.

I know that professional language folks know the difference, but I'm afraid that the word "interpreting" or "interpreter" are no longer going to be used that often, and eventually, I wonder if they'll be used at all.


comrade_tovarich said...

Perhaps "interpreter" is being undone by the foofooness that comes with "interpretive dance." After all, I can't imagine too many people being able to put up with "interpretive interpreters" for very long.

That sounds like "Saturday Night Live" skit material, actually. Not that I've seen that show since, oh, 1989.

comrade_tovarich said...

I meant to add ";-)" up there.


Anonymous said...

Interpretive dance--didn't think of that. "Interpreter" sure sounds less serious than "translator."

Sat Night Live went downhill a long time ago--the emporer wears no clothes!