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Difference between Translation and Interpretation of LIBRAS

Atualizado: 12 de Set de 2019

LIBRAS is the acronym for the Brazilian sign language, the expressive (gestural) language used in the communication of deaf people in Brazil and second official language in the country. LIBRAS is not a transposition of the Portuguese language into signs, but rather an independent language with its own syntax, semantics and morphology.



Precisely for this reason, many deaf people have difficulty in understanding and being alphabetized in Portuguese; then there is a variation in writing known as SignWriting which is formed by symbols alluding to the LIBRAS signs.


Traslation and Interpretation in LIBRAS


As Portuguese and Libras are different languages, we can speak of translation and interpretation of Libras; as in other pairs of tongues, the difference is that translation into Libras involves a written text (in SignWriting or other language) and intepretation happens when there is expressive discourse (whther verbal or gestural).


Thus certain possibilities of translation involving Libras and SignWriting are:

  • Libras: written language

  • Libras: SignWriting

  • Written language: SignWriting


Interpretation in LIBRAS


Now interpretation happens between expressive languages, that is, between Libras and a spoken language (for instance, oral Portuguese).


Interpreters in sign language (TILS – Tradutores e Intérpretes da Língua Brasileira de Sinais) act as intermediaries, present in the construction of interchange of speech or interlocution. They convey not only the speaker’s discourse, but they also should capture and convey their expressions and intonations, by providing the necessary emphasis for the full understanding of the message to be transmitted.


Other Sign Languages


It’s important to mention that, as Brazil has Libras, other countries also have their own gestural languages. Then it is possible to perform the interpretation or translation of the Brazilian sign language to the American sign language (ASL), Portuguese sign language (LGP) and others.


There are also methods of communication for deafblind people; one example is tactile Libras when the deafblind’s hands are placed over the interpreter’s hands so that the deafblind may feel the Libras movements. There is also the “Tadoma Method” in which a deafblind puts his hand on the interpreter’s chin and lips to understand the message through the vibration of words and lip movements.

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