Main Difference Between Translation and Interpreting

A2I Blog 12.23.13

Interpretation and translation are two closely related, though extremely different, linguistic disciplines. While both are critically important in modern life, they’re distinctly different tasks and require different skill sets. At Access 2 Interpreters, our language experts are here to help. We are exclusively dedicated to filling your interpreting and translation needs. We want to break down the main differences between translation and interpretation so our readers have a better understanding of the two.

What does a translator do?

The key skills of the translator are the ability to understand the source language and the culture of the country where the text originated. Using a good library of dictionaries and reference materials to render material clearly and accurately into the target language will provide the translator with the best materials to complete any project. In other words, while linguistic and cultural skills are still critical, the most important mark of a good translator is the ability to write well in the target language.

Access 2 Interpreters is proud to offer the following translation services:

  • Document Translation
    • We translate medical and legal documents, brochures, manuals and many more.
  • Transcription
    • We provide transcription of audio or video materials 
  • Voiceover Translation
    • We provide voiceover translations for documentaries, training videos and more.

What does an interpreter do?

An interpreter, on the other hand, must be able to translate in both directions on the spot, without using dictionaries or other supplemental reference materials. Interpreters must have extraordinary listening abilities, especially for simultaneous interpreting.

Access 2 Interpreters is proud to offer the following interpretation services:

  • Face-to-Face Interpretation
    • We offer both scheduled and emergency face-to-face interpretation sessions 24/7/365 
  • Scheduled Telephone Interpretation
    • We offer scheduled telephone interpretation services 24/7/365
  • Instantaneous Telephone Interpretation
    • We offer instant interpretation services over the phone that available nationwide in over 180 languages

Do I need a translator or an interpreter?

Though the services are extremely similar, the needs for an interpreter or a translator are very different. Fortunately, there are a few major distinctions to consider when determining which language service you need.

  • Composition
    • The format of your language request is the first distinction to consider. If the language is being spoken in real-time, you need an interpreter. If it’s written or text-based, you’ll need a translator. 
  • Presentation
    • How the language request is presented is the next consideration. Interpretation takes place in real-time, whether that’s over the phone or in person. Translation, however, can happen at any point once the original document is created, from foreign language films to ancient manuscripts. 
  • Accuracy
    • While all language professionals aim for total accuracy, the ebb and flow of conversation can make that challenging when interpreting in real-time. Translation tends to be more accurate simply because there’s more time to edit and review text. 
  • Exchange
    • One of the biggest differences between interpretation and translation is the direction of the exchanged linguistics. Translation involves one direction: changing existing text into a different language. Interpretation, on the other hand, must be able to translate in two directions, back and forth between two languages.

In conclusion, a translator must have a great writing background and credible reference materials to provide the most accurate work for documents, transcription or voiceovers. An interpreter must be fast on his or her feet so they can provide precise interpretation on the spot. Luckily, at Access 2 Interpreters, we offer both services to fulfill your interpretation and translation needs. Contact us today to learn more!

Share this story!