There is obviously a close relationship between interpretation and translation since they are both specialties within the linguistic field. Many people get the two confused because they seem to be much the same in a number of aspects. In reality, though, there are more differences than similarities between interpretation and translation.
What Makes the Two Different?
While it appears that the only difference between translation and interpretation is the medium, it goes much deeper than that. During a translation of your material, written text is translated over a period of days or weeks from the source to the target language using CAT tools, editing, proofreading and review. On the other hand, an interpreter uses oral means to interpret what is being said between two or more parties from the source to the target (and vice versa) in real time. There are actually two vastly different types of skill sets that are used for interpretation and translation, as well as very different processes and deadlines. Both actions, though, mean the person possesses a love for languages as well as a deep knowledge of their source and target languages.
A translator need to be bilingual in both the source language that the material is in as well as the target language that the client wants the documents translated into. That, however, is not where their real skills lie. Having a real sense of the culture within the country from where the language originated is key. In addition to solid linguistic skills and an in-depth knowledge of the culture, a translator must have a strong understanding of written grammar rules for both languages, as well as excellent writing skills in both (or more) languages. Translation also requires a high level of research and acess to a number of dictionaries and other reference materials in the target and source languages to help ensure that the translation is accurate and that it flows well structurally. Lastly, translators must have strong proofreading and editing skills to ensure the final product is accurate and formatted correctly.
The Interpreter Difference
While a translator may be qualified to translate into one language pair (ENG<SPA for example), they may not be qualified to translate in the reverse combination (SPA<ENG). An interpreter must be qualified to work at high level in both their source and target languages in order to render an accurate interpretation in real time. Usually an interpreter cannot carry a dictionary or reference material on an assignment, and must be intimately familiar with not only the language but the terminology of their subject field to ensure they can be accurate. Interpreters must recall words immediately and follow the pace of conversation of the speakers; they do not have days to consider the best verbiage to convey meaning. A successful interpreter must also have excellent listening skills as well as sharp public speaking abilities and strong soft skills that allow them to more easily interact with people and work in the field.
Translators vs. Interpreters
Just because you are a skilled interpreter, doesn’t mean you can deliver a quality translation. And just because you are a high quality translator, doesn’t mean you would be successful at an interpretation assignment. Linguists who work in the industry usually choose one profession: interpreter or translator. This allows them to focus on the skills they need to successfully do the work. Occasionally you will find an interpreter who also translates, or a translator who also interprets – and these people have spent years working on all of the skills needed to do their work well. But if you ask a linguist, they will always tell you they have a strong preference for translation or interpretation, only one can be a true passion.
Niki’s Int’l Ltd. offers highly trained and professional linguists for both translation and interpretation services. After speaking with our helpful and knowledgeable staff, your needs will be given to our linguists to ensure we deliver a high quality service that meets all of your expectations.