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What’s the Difference Between Translation and Interpretation?

Posted on: June 18, 2024 by admin

The primary difference between translation and interpretation lies in their purpose. Translation involves transcribing written content to convey its meaning in various languages, while interpretation facilitates communication between speakers of different languages.


There are other variabilities to consider, such as delivery, accuracy, and setting. Before we explore them, you must understand translation and interpretation. 


What Is Translation?


Translation is converting written text from one language to another. This content can include books, scripts, emails, magazines, articles, and other documents. 

What Is Interpretation?


Interpretation is instantaneously paraphrasing spoken words and conveying the meaning in another language. It can involve various communication types, such as simultaneous and consecutive interpretation.


  • Simultaneous interpretation: Interpreters listen to spoken words. They translate them into a target language in real time. They also use the first person, speaking directly to the message recipient.


  • Instantaneous interpretation: Interpreters quickly examine the spoken word. They then translate it into a targeted language. Unlike simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation involves going back and forth between people.


For instance, a doctor may communicate a patient’s symptoms in English to an interpreter, who then translates the information into the patient’s language. This process continues until all parties understand the message. This process continues until the speakers understand the message.


8 Differences Between Interpretation and Translation


Here are some of the major differences between interpretation and translation:


  1. Medium


One of the most significant distinctions between translation and interpretation is the medium. Translation focuses on translating and rewriting text. Interpretation involves paraphrasing spoken and body language. 


  1. Delivery


Another difference between translation and interpretation is the message delivery. Translators examine and translate written content from books, manuals and other documents. After analysing the content, they rewrite it in various target languages. Interpreters deliver spoken messages. 


  1. Accuracy


Translators and interpreters convey ideas and meanings from one language to another. But, some content can change. These changes might affect the accuracy of the message. As translators transcribe text, they can research and convert meanings more precisely. However, interpreters use cognitive skills and judgment, which can lead to contextual changes. 


  1. Immediacy


Timing is an essential difference in translation and interpretation. Translators have more time to read, research, edit and refine their translations. Compared to translation, interpretation happens immediately. Interpreters understand various verbal and nonverbal languages and translate them in real-time.


  1. Tools and Resources


While translation and interpretation are complex practices, interpreters can require more skill. They have little time to translate speech and must use their skills to give immediate interpretation. Translators use various resources, including dictionaries, computer tools, and translation technology.


  1. Setting


Translating can occur in isolation. Translators might work from an office, home, or remote setting. Interpretation happens in live locations. These include medical institutions, courtrooms, conference halls, corporate offices, and interview venues. 


  1. Fluency


Interpreters represent many voices. They must be fluent in their language and others.

For example, an interpreter must understand and translate multiple dialects in a meeting with people of many languages. Professional translators can understand many languages, but they often translate text into one direction or their mother language. 


  1. Non-Verbal Cues


Various words and body language can convey unique meanings in different cultures. These verbal and nonverbal cues can be essential for decrypting and translating messages. Interpreters must use their experience and skill to translate cues. 


These cues include body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, and gestures. Text transcriptions focus more on the written word than on communication cues.


FAQs About Translators vs Interpreters


Here are some frequently asked questions about translators and interpreters:


  1. What is the role of translators and interpreters? Interpreters and translators understand and translate verbal and nonverbal language. They do this to deliver a message. 
  2. What is the difference between an interpreter and a translator? Translators decipher written content. They convert it into a different or targeted language with text. Interpreters translate spoken words into a distinct linguistic variety.  
  3. Can a translator and an interpreter do the same job? Translators and interpreters can have similar skills. However, each profession is unique and is done separately. Translators require excellent writing and grammar skills in a source and target language. Interpreters must have interpersonal skills, like interpreting body language and tone of voice. 


Choose SYL for Comprehensive Translation and Interpretation Services 


When deciding on translation vs interpretation services, considering their differences is essential.


At SYL, we know the importance of selecting suitable translation and interpretation services. That’s why we offer comprehensive and customised solutions to meet your needs. We tailor our interpreter and translator services to your goals and capacity. 

Contact us online today to learn more about our services and get a free quote.