Translator vs. Interpreter: Understanding the Difference?

Translator vs. Interpreter: Understanding the Difference?

Are you considering building a career in the language industry, but aren’t sure of the difference between translators and interpreters? Translators work with written text and interpreters work with spoken word. These two roles require different skill sets and levels of expertise – understanding the difference could be an important step in getting started on your language career.

There are some distinctions between the roles of a translator and an interpreter. We will explore the differences between translation and interpretation. Keep reading to learn more!

Who Is a Translator?

A translator is an expert who interprets or rewrites written material from one language to another. As a translator, you must have a robust command and understanding of both languages.

Also, a deep understanding of the cultural and linguistic tones will help to comprehend the exact meaning in the other language accurately.

Translators study specialization in different subject areas. These may include law, finance, or medicine, for example.

Specialization courses will help me gain a deeper understanding of the underlying information.

Who Is an Interpreter?

An interpreter facilitates oral communication between people who speak multiple languages.

Interpreters must have an excellent command of both languages and the ability to think quickly to convey each party’s meaning with minimal delay accurately.

Unlike translators, interpreters must be able to handle real-time conversations and the nuances of verbal communication.

Interpreters may specialize in a particular form of interpretation, such as simultaneous interpretation or sign language, in which they interpret spoken words into another language on the fly. They may also interpret between deaf people and those who can hear usually. Interpreters are typically used in legal settings, medical appointments, and conferences.

Factors That Differ Between Translators and Interpreters

While both are forms of language service providers, they differ in many ways.

1) Format

A translator will typically work with written text, such as books and documents, while an interpreter will typically work with spoken language. The translator’s task is to convert the meaning of a source document into another language, usually by creating a written translation. Conversely, the interpreter’s task is to convert spoken words from one language into another in real-time.

2) Level of Accuracy

Translators job profile involves providing a final write-up with the same meaning as the source document. Hence, they must pay special attention to every detail in the source document.

This includes proper grammar and spelling, which gives an accurate translation.

As an interpreter, your job is to accurately convey the exact meaning and tone of a source document. Hence, interpreters need not be specific about grammar and spelling.

They are free to change the sentence structure as long as the literal meaning of the message doesn’t change.

3) Intangible

Metaphors, jokes, and figures of speech usually need to be found in translation. That’s because they sometimes carry different meanings or cultural relevance when translated into another language. On the other hand, interpreters must be able to quickly decipher the speaker’s intent and provide a carefully crafted interpretation of their words. This is why more complex conversations require an interpreter to convey the true meaning accurately and without confusion.

Interpreters must also be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions that can significantly impact the conversation. They must remain impartial and convey messages accurately while keeping cultural sensitivities in mind.

Call Certified Translation Professional (CTP) for translating certificates online if you want to become a translator or interpreter. Our self-paced program will train you in the principles and practices of translation and interpretation.