What is the Difference Between Translation and Interpretation?

Although translation and interpretation are closely related and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different and are rarely performed by the same person. Even bilingual people cannot always express themselves the same way in both of their languages. Interpretation and translation require different skills, training, and even different knowledge of the languages they are working in.

Let’s explore the differences between these two linguistic professions.

The Difference Between Translation and Interpretation

A translator works with written text and an interpreter translates orally. While this seems like a minor difference, translating the written word and the spoken word are actually very different. Think about all of the idioms and turns of phrase we use daily. If those were translated literally, they wouldn’t make any sense! And it’s no secret that the written word lacks the emotion and context of the spoken word.

A Translator’s Skill Set

While a translator should have an excellent working knowledge of the languages they are translating to and from, the most important skill for a good translator is the ability to write well in the target language. Translators can, and often do, use dictionaries and reference materials to translate the material clearly and accurately.

An Interpreter’s Skill Profile

One of the biggest differences between translation and interpretation is the fact that interpreters must translate both ways, on the spot. This dictates the skill set an interpreter needs to have.

They must be extremely good listeners and unlike translators, interpreters don’t have the luxury of taking their time and using reference materials like dictionaries. Because interpreters must immediately translate a conversation or speech, interpretation requires incredible in-depth knowledge of both languages. A professional interpreter should be familiar with colloquialisms, idioms, and culturally-specific references for both languages. Listening to a conversation, processing it in one language, then repeating it in another language is no easy feat!

What to Look for in an Interpreter or Translator

Whether you need written or spoken material translated, there are few qualifications every interpreter or translator should have. A professional should have…

  • Fluency in two or more languages
  • An extensive vocabulary in both languages
  • The ability to express thoughts clearly in both languages
  • Subject matter expertise specific to the material they are translating
  • Excellent writing ability (for translators)
  • Attention to detail

At English to Spanish Raleigh, our translators are native Spanish-speakers, born and raised in Hispanic countries. We have the knowledge and cultural sensibility to deliver your message in the best way possible.

Contact English to Spanish Raleigh for your Translation Needs!

Let us help increase your business and reach a growing Hispanic market. We can deliver your message with respect, accuracy, and in a voice that connects with the local population. To get a quote or learn more about our services, contact us today at 919-995-2986 or fill out our contact form to get started!