Language Interpretation as Discussed in The Linguist Magazine

This article is in partnership with Day Translations.

The second issue of The Linguist Magazine covers a range of topics and it focused on language intepretation in two articles: one about language interpretation itself and one about sign language interpretation. Then, as a bonus feature, there is also an article about the art of language interpretation, which relies on a human interpreter’s appreciation of the whole context of a conversation to be able to convey meaning to an audience.

New Trends in Language Interpretation

Technology is playing an important role in how language interpretation is delivered to clients. Remote interpretation has become very popular in all industry sectors, providing convenience alongside professional expertise.

Demands from the client side have evolved, with sometimes extremely high expectations that couldn’t be met in the past without the right technology. An example is real-time interpretation, which can be offered through an AI type of solution. By cutting down travelling time, professional interpreters can provide remote translations to more clients. Remote working also allows people with physical disabilities or caring responsibilities to be available to provide language interpreting without having to attend events in person.

AI tools can assist professional interpreters in routine tasks, saving time and accelerating the delivery of interpretation services. However, some situations require the presence of a professional interpreter without exceptions when sensitive and confidential information is involved. There are also instances when confidentiality must be kept at all costs and information can only be shared on a need to know basis.

The Future of Sign Language Interpretation

The magazine touched upon how sign language interpretation is evolving. Sign language is a highly visual form of communication that the hearing impaired communities rely on.

Because of this visual element, video calling technology is extremely useful for these communities to engage with private and public services in their day-to-day life. Video Relay Services are just one example of these tools, alongside other Telecommunications Relay Services, which can include captions for voice calls.

Machine learning has been trained to recognise sign language therefore providing interpretation both ways, i.e., by recognising sign language and transforming it into text or speech, and by converting text or speech into sign language.

The Art of Language Interpretation

We know that art is subjective and it can evoke different emotions to each viewer depending on their life experiences.

However, when it comes to ensuring that all parties in a conversation are on the same page, the real art is in the way a language interpreter ensures the key messages are shared and understood by all. Interpretation is more than word-for-word translation from one language to another: the interpreter must distil the cultural references shared by the audience into messages that immediately make sense. There is no room for misunderstandings, especially in fields such as trade and diplomatic negotiations.

Interpreters add value by applying the right level of formality or informality in a conversation, drawing from their own experiences being exposed to different types of cultures. They have the ability to immediately piece together fragments from conversations to offer a cohesive message. This is an extremely specialised skill that is honed over a number of years and that is very intense in terms of required brain power to perform at top level.

In a video essay on YouTube, entitled “How Shōgun Makes Translation Exciting”, the author, who posts under the name Nerdwriter, argued that interpretation and language translation can make or break relationships, both at micro and macro level.

In modern communications we rely on exact language interpretation and language translation to avoid biases and manipulation of the truth.

Having qualified professional interpreters at meetings and events ensures that there is a high level of accuracy and reliability of translated messages.