Language and Translation

Explaining the Difference Between Language Translation and Interpretation

As a language solutions provider, we know that clear communication is the first step to achieving understanding. We also know that some of the terminology in our industry can be confusing to someone who’s not familiar with it.

That’s why we wanted to take a moment to explain the difference between language translation and interpretation, as well as address some other common questions.

What is Language Translation?

Language translation is the process of converting the written word from one language into another in a way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate so that it can be understood by its intended audience.

What is Language Interpretation?

Whereas language translation refers only to the written word, interpreting refers to the spoken word. An interpreter’s job is to facilitate communication between two people who speak different languages, whether the conversation takes place over the phone, in person, or via video remote interpreting.

What Skills are Required for Each?

Language translators and interpreters share many of the same skill sets. Both must be proficient in at least two languages and have a good understanding of the cultures for the intended audience.

Both translators and interpreters typically need expertise in the industry for which they’re working, as well as the procedures, standards, and terminology associated with it. For instance, many interpreters and translators have additional training in the medical, legal, or business fields, which enables them to be proficient at their jobs.

Interpreters also need some specific skills, such as:

Exceptional listening skills and memory recall in order to remember words and convert them from one language to another in real time

Ability to take good notes

Excellent communication and customer service skills

Excellent comprehension of syntax in addition to grammar

Specific skills for translators include:

Ability to research words and concepts

Excellent composition and grammar skills in both languages

What is the Difference Between a Bilingual Person and a Professional Interpreter or Translator?

A bilingual person is someone who is proficient in at least two languages. However, being bilingual alone does not qualify someone to be a professional interpreter or translator. Interpreters and translators need additional skills, including those mentioned above, to be effective at their jobs. Being a professional also means an interpreter or translator’s skills have been assessed using language proficiency tests, as well as industry-specific tests.

Tips for Choosing Quality Translation and Interpretation Solutions

Offering language solutions to meet the needs of your audience is no longer optional. In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s also required by law for many healthcare and government organisations. But with thousands of translation and interpretation solutions to choose from for all languages like French, Chinese, or Japanese translations, how can you be sure you’re selecting the right one?

Start by looking at how a potential provider hires and trains its translators and interpreters. It’s also important to ask about their procedures for ensuring quality and protecting your information, as well as their technical capabilities and how they respond to support requests.

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