Difference Between Translation & Interpretation – Speak Your Language

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Difference Between Translation and Interpretation

Posted on: November 22, 2021 by admin

Over the past couple of years, cross-communication around the globe has increased and so has the demand for translation and interpretation. Multilingual content is helping businesses get ahead of the game. As readily available content increases, the need for translation and interpretation follows suit! So, what is the difference between translation and interpretation?


What Is Translation?

Let’s start with what translation means. Translation is the process of reworking text from one language into another whilst maintaining the original message. Usually, translators have an area of expertise. For example, literary translators specialise in translation publications, education and editorials. While commercial and financial translators specialise in economic translation (banking, contracting and payment records etc.). The same goes for migration, medical and legal translators.


Translation requires a firm understanding of both source and target languages to translate effectively. Factors such as cultural, social and linguistic differences should be considered if you want the reader to have a complete sense of the tone, purpose, and terminology used. The best way to achieve this is through working with someone who speaks the native tongue.


Translation is required all over the world, especially in the business and migration sectors. For example, a foreigner may be applying for permanent residency in a country in which they do not speak the language fluently. They would most likely write their application in their target language and use a translator to translate the application on their behalf. This would ensure that the reader can understand their writing, tone and leaves minimal room for misinterpretation.


The Role Of A Translator

Now that we’ve covered what translation is, we will explain the role of a translator and why they are needed. A translator is a professional who can translate from one language to another. They are required to translate documents and ensure that the integrity of the original communication is maintained during the process. They are most commonly required by businesses and industries that work with international clients, suppliers and partners. Translators are also commonly needed for migration services and can aid communication by converting information from one language into another. The goal of a translator is to keep close to the ideas and facts from the original source. That applies to cultural references, expressions and slang that doesn’t translate literally.


In order to be a professional translator, years of practice and dedication is required. On top of specialising in a specific sector such as law or immigration, a translator should also:

  • Be fluent in multiple languages
  • Have a degree in translation
  • Have years of work experience
  • Have strong literacy skills


When using a translator, it is strongly recommended that they have studied an endorsed course and have a NAATI certified provisional translator qualification.


What Is Interpretation?

Interpretation is not the same as translation. Interpretation is the act of someone translating the source language orally or through sign language. It is commonly seen in seminars, schools, hospitals, business meetings and public events. The source language is the language of the speaker while the target language is the language of the interpretation.


For example, someone could be doing a speech in English, and an interpreter’s role would be to translate the source language (English) to the target language (Chinese).


Interpreting requires fluent speech in both of the languages being used. An interpreter should receive, produce and convert all at the same time. They must have phenomenal listening, public speaking skills and the capacity to instantly translate languages to accommodate idioms and cultural references so that the audience understands.



The Role Of A Interpreter

As touched on briefly above, the role of an interpreter is to interpret what is being said and communicate it orally or through sign language into the target language. They are required in situations where you have a group of people who don’t all speak the same language. Auslan interpreters can be used to communicate to an audience who is deaf or has hearing problems. Having an interpreter can make the situation less stressful and ensure a safe and equal environment for everyone that is involved. An interpreter must be able to translate both languages on the spot without using reference materials or research.


To become a qualified interpreter in Australia, you will need:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have an extensive vocabulary in multiple languages
  • Demonstrate bilingualism and literacy through language proficiency testing
  • Have work experience


When using an interpreter, it is strongly recommended that they have studied an endorsed course and have a NAATI certified provisional interpreter qualification.


Difference Between Translation And Interpretation

The term interpreter is often confused with translator. They are 2 different things that work together and the main difference is the medium – writing vs. oral.


A translator is not required to speak but must be able to translate documents or text from 1 language to another. While an interpreter is required to translate a language verbally or through sign language. The main difference between them is that interpretation deals with spoken language in real-time, whereas translation focuses on written text. Although they are closely related, they are rarely performed by the same person. The training, specialisation and language knowledge required between them are different however, they both require a deep understanding of multiple languages.


If you’re looking for a translator or interpreter, the NAATI certified team at Speak Your Language can help! We have a reputation for providing superior translation and interpretation services at competitive prices. Contact us today to discuss your translation and interpretation needs.