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Different words for language transmission

Interpreter, refugee pilot, language mediator, integration pilot, integration mentor, intercultural escort, culture interpreter, culture pilot, culture mediator, language and integration mediator, language and culture mediator, translator.

All of these terms are used when it comes to language transmission. The difference between them all being their emphasis: While you certainly can expect a language and integration mediator to not only transmit what is said between two parties, it would be quite a surprise for your translator to give you integrative cooking lessons.

In general, the differences are not that complicated:

While translators convey written texts from one language to another, interpreters communicate the spoken word. However, not all languages make this distinction (for example Russian). That is why in German (especially in the former East Germany), for example, there is also the word Sprachmittler, or language mediator, which means both translator and interpreter. Due to the influence of English, some Germans are now starting to use the word Translator, as well. The adjective translatorisch is actually used quite often nowadays.

Interpreters are usually divided into different groups, depending on the type of language transmission they do:

  • Simultaneous interpreters interpret simultaneously, they are the ones you usually see sitting in their interpreting booths at congresses and the like. Meanwhile, some courtrooms use this technique as well, but it is not all too widespread.
  • Consecutive interpreters work differently, they translate piece by piece. The classical experience – how people who are now over 50 learned it at university – is to have one writing notes into a notebook while the speaker is talking. With the aid of said notes, the consecutive interpreter then conveys what was said.
  • Liaison interpreters or negotiation interpreters usually convey what is said in small units – this is the typical situation in client meetings, depositions, and employee surveys.
  • Community interpreters usually work for administrative bodies. This name does not stand for a certain type of interpreting, but rather who the interpreter is commissioned by.
  • Court interpreters – you guessed it – work at court.
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