Who cares what the difference is between an interpreter and a translator?
If you look at my website and some of my blogs over the years, I attempted to educate people as to the distinction between the two terms. However, more and more, that distinction is becoming less important to me. First, I will explain the difference, then I will tell you why I feel it really doesn’t matter anymore. Perhaps after this, my colleagues can convince me otherwise. Call a psychiatrist or a psychologist, and you’ll hear fighting words.
Shortly after humankind began to speak, they began to write. Diplomacy and trade documents require competent translation. Evidence in court must be translated in order to determine a just decision. Written medical instructions are useless if a patient can’t read them, requiring the need of a skilled translator.
For as long as mankind has spoken multiple languages, interpreters have existed. They have been present for peace treaties among nations and have always been essential for trade. Interpreters are necessary for due process in court and have aided medical professionals in saving many lives.
That is the difference. Translators convey written messages into another language, while interpreters do it orally or by sign language. Over the years, I have observed some of my colleagues dutifully correct NPR when they use the word translator instead of interpreter.
Over many years, I have been explaining to everyone the difference and yet, i still constantly got requests for a translator to be present for a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy.
A few years ago, I was in a small debate about how young people can’t spell as they have become accustomed to abbreviating everything over text messages. It was reminded that language is ever evolving and that what I perceived as bad language or spelling is simply that language evolution that I am witnessing.
We all understand and accept that language is ever changing and that meaning of words also change. for this reason if the great majority of people commonly interchange the word interpreter and translator, who am I to swim against the raging current? But my client continues to use the words interchangeably, I simply clarify what they want if the context of the request doesn’t make it clear.
What finally pushed me over the edge on this subject? Search engine optimization. (SEO) Yes, that’s right. SEO Is about choosing the right, commonly search words on Google, for instance. When I stuck to the proper terminology, I was it was more difficult for potential customers to find me on the Internet.
Then one day, I broke down and began to include the word translator In addition to interpreter. In fact, I began to include many words in my SEO that are common but incorrect. Almost immediately my website had a major boost and has continued that way period much more work has developed from Internet searches since I decided to add the wrong words.
At this point, I feel it is a little hypocritical to hold people to the traditional terms when behind the scenes, my actions use keywords that are recognized by some as completely wrong period I have recognized and admitted that in cyberspace, translator and interpreter are in fact interchangeable. I still don’t like it, probably because I’m also not a big fan of change.