Like medicine, the language sector has its own terminology that can be confusing to someone new to the industry. Our quick guide will help you to quickly get to grips with common differences between translation and interpreting, so that you know what to ask for the next time you need multilingual help.
People often don’t understand the difference between translation and interpreting, a lot of the time everything just falls under translation. In this article we will help explain what the main differences between translation and interpreting are and why you would use each service.
Quite simply, Interpreting is spoken, Translation is written.
The first and most key difference is that translation is the comparing and transferring of understanding between written information in different languages. Interpreting is the understanding and communicating of differences between spoken languages.
Interpreting happens in real time while translation does not.
When translating a document the translated information does not usually need to be used at the moment in time, unless we are considering sight translation. The information will normally be consumed by the other party at a later date. This gives the translator time to think about their translation and access resources needed to assist them.
Interpreting is an immediate communication between two or more parties and can happen in person, over the phone or via a video service. This makes interpreting a live and fluid “translation” which requires much quicker response times.
Fluency in their languages
While both translation and interpreting require understanding over both languages, the levels do not need to be the same. Translation can require fluency in both languages depending on the technicality but simple documents won’t need that same level.
Interpreting requires a good knowledge of both languages to be able to communicate between other parties who will be native speakers in each language. This will be bidirectional and on the spot, making it a very demanding task which normally requires breaks after 20-30 minutes.
Accuracy levels can be different
Translators can structure their time over their work and can revise each word or sentence before delivering their product. With more time allows more precision and are usually required to be 100% accurate with their translations.
Experience is essential with interpreting. During the conversation an interpreter may have to remove certain words from their interpreting or include extras to make sure it continues to make sense between languages.
Translation and Interpreting require different skill sets.
It is a common misconception that translation and interpreting are interchangeable skills. There are some people who can do both but they are unique skills that require years of practice.
A good translator won’t always make a good interpreter and visa versa, just as someone who works in commercial law won’t automatically be competent in human rights law.
Translation has translation memory. Interpreters use their own memory.
In translation, computer tools such as translation memory can be used to make translating easier if the words and phrases have already been translated before. This means that a translator can speed up the process and normally offer a cheaper price.
Interpreters are the translation memory; they are required to know what is the best word to use in a phase should be etc. As conversations can be different even from the previous sentence there is not direct, quick and easy route. It will still normally cost the same amount each time, regardless how many times they do it.
Overall, translation is focused on written words while Interpreting is focused on spoken language. Each require their own set of specialist skills and are used for a wide variety of different reasons in every sector you can think of. If you are still unsure what service you need or wish to find out how we can help you with your language service needs, contact us today.