Updated: Feb 28, 2021
I am delighted at the Guardian’s clarification this week about the use of the terms Translator and Interpreter: “One article (Merkel backs May’s decision not to trigger Brexit until next year, 21 July 2016, page 6) referred to the chancellor “speaking in German with an official translator”, and another (No free trade without open borders, Hollande tells May, 22 July 2016, page 1) referred to the president “speaking in French with an official translator”. While Collins dictionary says “translator” can mean “a person or machine that translates speech or writing”, our style guide advises using “interpreter” for people who work with the spoken word, and “translator” for those who work with the written word.”
The Guardian is not alone in occasionally misusing the two language professions. The confusion is spread across national and local media, large and small. This is something I mentioned to school children on my visit to raise awareness, which became a subject of my article in the July-August 2016 issue of the Bulletin, the magazine published by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.
Giving talks in schools could help raise awareness of what we do while also introducing children to new languages.
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