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An interpreter translates spoken passages of a foreign language into another specified language. The job is often designated by the language interpreted, such as Spanish or Japanese. In addition, many interpreters specialize according to subject matter. For example, medical interpreters have extensive knowledge of and experience in the health care field, while court or judiciary interpreters speak both a second language and the "language" of law. Interpreters for the deaf, also known as sign language interpreters, aid in the communication between people who are unable to hear and those who can.
In contrast to interpreters, translators focus on written materials, such as books, plays, technical or scientific papers, legal documents, laws, treaties, and decrees. A sight translator performs a combination of interpreting and translating by reading printed material in one language while reciting it aloud in another.
There are approximately 50,900 interpreters and translators employed in the United States.