from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An interpreter (formerly also Tolmetsch , in Austrian standard German also today interpreter ) is a language mediator who - in contrast to a translator - transfers spoken text orally or using sign language from a source language to a target language.

The interpretation is the one by the volatility of the spoken word, the other by non-verbal (non-oral) factors such as gestures , facial expressions , intonation and general body language marked, but above all also through the speed and intelligibility.

The job titles "interpreter" and "conference interpreter" are - in contrast to job titles such as " doctor " or " notary " - not protected by law in Germany and Austria, which means that it is possible to practice the profession without a corresponding examination. However, designations associated with certain qualifications or approvals, such as “publicly appointed and sworn interpreter”, “state-certified interpreter”, “generally sworn interpreter”, “generally sworn and court-certified interpreter”, etc. are protected against misuse -) Country vary, as well as titles acquired through a university degree (such as “Diplom-Dolmetscher”).


Interpreting or interpreting , Middle High German tolmetze, tolmetsche, tolmetscher , comes from the Turkish dilmaç or tilmaç .

According to Kluge , the word came into German either through Hungarian ( tolmács ) or Russian ( толмач ; or through another Slavic language , see below); Pfeifer and Bielfeldt assume a loan from a Slavic language and see no evidence of a loan from Hungarian.

Slovenian ( tolmač ), Serbian / Croatian / Bosnian ( тумач / tumač ), Polish ( tłumacz ), Czech ( tlumočník ), Ukrainian ( тлумач or товкмач ) and Romanian ( tălmaci ) show comparable word forms .

Education and history

The training (at universities or - in Bavaria - at specialist academies) includes, among other things, the perfecting of mother tongue and working languages, the teaching of interpreting strategies ( e.g. note-taking technology for consecutive interpreting ) and special skills ( simultaneous interpreting ), the introduction to subject areas such as law , Economy , technology or medicine and aspects of interpreting science.

During the Middle Ages states, scientists and clergy in the West exchanged Latin. As far as z. B. came into contact with people from the Orient through the Crusades or the Turkish Wars, indigenous linguists ( dragomaniacs ) were used, who often belonged to religious minorities such as Jews or Andalusian Christians. Because the dragomaniacs were often personally unreliable and also hired themselves as spies , the European states began in the 18th century. to train own officials as staff interpreters at language boys' institutes. In 1721 France founded the École des jeunes de langue (later the École des langues orientales vivantes ). In addition to general educational content, Turkish and Arabic were also taught. With the completion of the studies, the language boys were ordered to Constantinople and practically trained at the Iternum. Austria followed in 1754 with the Oriental Academy . In addition, there were economic motives that led to the establishment of business and trade-oriented interpreting schools in Europe ("interpreter" was the generic term for translators and interpreters until around 1945 ). In the German Empire , the " Seminar for Oriental Languages " (SOS) at Berlin University was only established in 1887 against the backdrop of German colonialism . SOS training participants were mainly officials from the Foreign Office or the Reich Colonial Office, but also employed in foreign trade and interested journalists. The seminar was initially only created for training in Turkish, Persian and Arabic. Since 1897, language mediators have also been trained for Arabic, the Chinese languages, Greek, Japanese, Farsi, Russian, Spanish, Kiswahili and Turkish. After the First World War and the loss of the German colonies as a result of the Versailles Peace Treaty , the SOS initially experienced a setback, but established itself as the center of German research on the Orient and Africa during the Weimar Republic .

After the end of the First World War , a ban on secret diplomacy , which was seen as a major contributing factor to the war, was called for. In addition to the previously common understanding between governments through ambassadors and envoys who used French as the language of diplomacy, there were conferences of heads of state and government or foreign ministers. In order to improve communication among members of the government, who mostly had only an imperfect command of foreign languages, the job description of conference interpreters was created.

After the National Socialists came to power, the Reichsfachschaft for interpreting was established under the leadership of Otto Monien . Major Monien was also the head of a newly established Reichsfachschule, through which the training of language mediators was professionalized, not least with a view to the future war. The Reichsfachschule offered two years of full-time training, followed by training in evening courses and other further training measures. The Reichsfachschaft also had a stand-by interpreter service.

The German Wehrmacht set up interpreting schools in the 1930s in order to have enough language mediators available for the war. At the beginning of the war, the people trained there, but also other interpreters, were drafted into interpreting companies.

The other institutes founded in Germany and Europe (e.g. in Geneva , Paris and Vienna ) fall mainly in the middle of the 20th century, when the demand for language mediators and related professions increased during the economic miracle .

Interpreters for the judiciary and authorities

Interpreters play an important role in the personal dealings of courts , notaries or authorities ( police , registry offices , etc.) with people who do not speak the national language, as well as with the deaf and speechless (sign language interpreters).


see also: court interpreters

With the exception of the Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defense (→ Federal Language Office ), German courts and authorities usually do not have their own language service. Rather, independent interpreters or interpreters employed by an external office are generally used (→ court interpreters ). As a rule, the interpreter must be sworn for such tasks .

The work of interpreters in court and in authorities is remunerated in accordance with the Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act .


In Austria , this task is performed by specially qualified court interpreters (full name: sworn and court-certified interpreters) who have to undergo an examination as part of a judicial administrative procedure in accordance with the federal law on sworn and court-certified experts and interpreters (SDG). The designation is protected by law; anyone who uses them illegally can be sued for an injunction . With the amendment to the law in 1999, in addition to the general swearing-in, “judicial certification ” was introduced in order to take into account the idea of quality assurance . The personal requirements for entry in the interpreter lists were expanded and a periodic review of the entry requirements was introduced. In Austria, the court interpreter is also responsible for the certification of translations and in this respect corresponds to the “sworn” or “authorized” translator in Germany.

See also: Austrian Association of sworn and court-certified interpreters . See also: UNIVERSITAS Austria, professional association for interpreting and translation

European Union

The work of interpreters in the institutions of the European Union plays a particularly important role . The European Parliament and the European Court of Justice each have their own interpreting service, while the European Commission service is responsible for interpreting in the Commission, the Council of Ministers , the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions . The interpreting services employ permanent and permanent interpreters and - in the case of Parliament and the Commission - have a common list of freelance interpreters. In order to be included in this database, applicants must first pass an inter-institutional selection test. The selection of permanent interpreters is carried out centrally for all European authorities in a process ( concours ) organized by the European Personnel Selection Office .

Advisory interpreter

An advisory interpreter is often required when organizing larger events that require interpreting. He is then responsible for putting together the team of interpreters for one or more languages ​​and, as the client's sole contact person, is responsible for interpreting the event.

See also

Web links

Commons : Interpretation  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Interpreters  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. This word is associated with folk etymology with the Turkish word til / dil "language". The modern Turkish word for interpreter is tercüman .
  2. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological Dictionary , de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1995, ISBN 3-11-012922-1 .
  3. Hans Holm Bielfeldt: Borrowings from the various Slavic languages ​​in the vocabulary of the New High German written language. Berlin 1965, meeting reports of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Class for Languages, Literature and Art, born 1965, No. 1, p. 45, cited above. after Wolfgang Pfeifer et al .: Etymological dictionary of German . Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1995; ISBN 3-423-03358-4 .
  4. ^ Karlheinz Barck: Essays on the Spanish and French literary and ideological history of the modern age