Amazing Things to Know About Interpreters

They have superpowers.

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Interpreters are an integral part of each deaf person’s life, there is no argument about it.

Doctor’s appointments, scheduling the kids’ playtime, calling a co-worker, taking courses to finish that BA degree, everything—interpreters are there with the deaf client through it all.

But did you know these facts about interpreters?

  1. Even the world’s most powerful supercomputers cannot compete with an interpreter’s brain.

This is due to a process called simultaneous interpreting, something only humans can do successfully. This means the brain is processing two languages at the same time and taking into account emotion, tone, and context to translate them into one language from another and back.

In the case of American Sign Language, there are two processes happening: visually and auditory. Interpreters must understand the context along with attitude nuances and interpret it correctly without disrupting the flow of conversation. These are too many complex processes for a supercomputer to run at the same time!

  1. Interpreting is the conversion of a language in to another through speaking or signing; translation is the written conversion of languages.

To translate is the act of converting a word from one language into another; interpreting is the translation of the words, context, and tone orally/signing.

  1. To become an interpreter, the candidate must begin with an AA or BA degree in either Sign Language or Deaf Studies.

After the college training, they will usually go through 2-5 years of onsite training before they become full-fledged interpreters. To work in more fields, certifications are required depending on the interpreter’s state. Most states require certification from RID (Registry of Interpreters) and NAD (National Association of the Deaf) as proof of the interpreter’s skill and qualifications.

The salaries can go up to $70,000 per year. Most interpreters tend to work in the education system or as a freelancer with an agency, where they will experience a variety of different jobs.

  1. It’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States.

Yes, that’s right! Interpreters have increased in demand and the Bureau of Labor reported that they expect a 29% job growth by 2024.

All in all, interpreters are our everyday superheroes!

Source for simultaneous process: BBC News

Pay scale and job growth source: Bureau of Labor Statistics-Translators



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  2. I like how you compared the superiority of human interpreters to computers as only human interpreters have the ability to process simultaneous interpreting which can take emotion, tone, and context into their translations. That is quite an interesting thing to take note of as those are quite important in making a successful conversation. That is also the same reason why face to face talks are better than both calling and texting as the expressions and feelings can be better emitted to one another. If I were a business owner dealing with foreign clients, I would be sure to hire a reliable interpreter to help out with our dealings and the likes. Thanks!

  3. Im violet from kenya im a sign language interpreter with a public health background. Kindly i m yearning for more knowledge should there be any fellowships for sign language kindly would be glad to be a beneficiary

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