Interpreting vs translation

Practice of conference interpreting, no matter if we are talking about consecutive or simultaneous translation, arises an issue of the theory of translation. Here we should go over the linguistic limits of a language, because if you are within certain frames it is impossible to explain the process of translation, because you have to enter into “linguistics of words”, when we are talking about not only linguistics of text, but also about discourse in a wide sense. Let’s think about the frames of Saussure theory, where we analyse:

  1. system of signs
  2. sign as a set of sign and sense meaning and mental repsresentation
  3. sign that does not mean something separately but it has the meaning in the whole semantic system of a language.


Unfortunately this conception does not give an opportunity to talk about the translation from the point of view of the theory of translation. The translator does not work with system and semantic signs (paradigmatic), the translator translates the valuable signs in word, that have been formed for years. Sed sunum exprimere de sensu. In other words the translator does not translate isolated phrases or words, he simply transfers the idea, that is supposed to be transferred in oral or written message. But what are we talking here about?

Here we talk about the sense of expression. The very word “sense” – after it was transformed, changed all the nuances, but at the same time did not change its initial position – has the following meaning: “the value of signs in the word is predetermined by sintagmatic, pragmatic and contextual relations, that deeply come into what you wanted to say”. Basing on this definition to give the definition to the notion “translation” it is necessary to give a definition to such a notion as sense. And what is sense?

To answer this question it is necessary to go further the usual linguistic notion as here we do not use a traditional Saussure notion of an object as a System or Paradigm, because the sense exists only in the word itself. And the sense is much more deeper in oral words than in written ones. That is the main root of the importance of the interpreting, where the real sense is more clear, comparing to the written ones, where the sense is hidden between the pages. And in oral speech, on the contrary, the linguistic structure not only differs from written translation, but here we also use other techniques – the primary semiotic transfer, more emotional, closer, the same as emotional processes, where speaker shows his/her desires.

It is even possible to say that the very structure in the process of interpreting exists in another emotional and acoustic world, where both sound casing of the word and physical environment of the speaker are important.

It is even possible to say that the very structure in interpreting exists in another emotional and acoustic word, where the sound cover of the word has the same meaning as the environment of the speaker. Here the flow of information comes from mouth to ears, in the moment of breath and the word born in such a way is caught by phrase or expression, obsesses by phrases and ideas.

In translation we have more precise and fixed grammatical structures, comparing to oral speech, with which the interpreter faces every day. How can we explain it? The statefulness of the written speech is dictated by the lack of context and outer conditions, that surround the oral speech, actually these surroundings help the interpreter to determine the meaning in oral discourse, independently from grammar structures. It attracts interpreters in their work, it makes the work very difficult, and it impresses customers, that always glad to see the professional work.

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