Language Inc

Language Inc. - Specialists in translating, proofreading, editing and copywriting.

Translator or Interpreter? Choosing the Right Professional

Herewith our third post of this blog and something we come across regularly is the topic of discussion today. Clients who need language services often get confused with regards to the differences between a TRANSLATOR and an INTERPRETER. I realize that the distinction between the two isn't foggy or strange to anyone in the language industry, but many people think that an interpreter can translate written text or even vice versa. Allow me this opportunity to clarify any confusion in this regard, because, just as an engineer doesn't want to be called an architect, a translator doesn't want to called an interpreter.

Interpreting and translation are two closely related linguistic professions. Yet they are rarely performed by the same people. The difference in skills, training, aptitude and even language knowledge are so substantial, that few people can do both successfully on a professional level.

According to the AIIC, an interpreter works with spoken words in a specific context, conveying a message from one language to another, while translation refers to the activity of transferring written text from one language to another. Translators are skilled at writing, keep close to the original text, and can take time to come up with the ideal translation. Interpreters on the other hand, have good communication skills, and use their intuition, flexibility and quick reactions to come up with a translation for anything that is said, virtually instantaneously, without notice.

Interpretation is carried out in real time (simultaneous) or very close to it (consecutive). The interpreter has no time to refer to the written resources available to translators. This makes preparation before each assignment all the more important for an interpreter. Another constraint is the extreme speed at which the interpreter has to receive, understand, manage and reconstruct information. A translator may translate 2000-3000 words per day, while the interpreter has to deal with around 150 words per minute.

All in all, translators and interpreters perform similar tasks, but in different settings. Be that as it may, the differences are arguably greater than the similarities, and it is of great importance that the client knows which kind of service is required, so that the suitable professional can be called in for the job. After all, you won't call in a chiropractor if you actually need heart surgery.

Until next week,

The Language Inc. team

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