Smiling deaf boy with ear implant at doctor's office
Blog April 5, 2022

Translation and Interpretation Defined

Both translation and interpretation enable communication across languages from source to target. Translation deciphers meaning of the written word from one language to another. Interpretation conveys meaning of the spoken word from one language to another.

The common thread is language. However, the two professions require very different skills. While the two are often mistakenly interchanged as equivalents, most translators would baffle at the idea of interpreting on the spot and vice versa. Imagine comparing the work of a public speaker with that of a writer. While both work with language, the skills and talents required are very different.

Translators must capture the content, style and form of the original text accurately and precisely and then render it into the target language. The process takes time and typically requires several editions. The translator must read the text in the source language, decipher its meaning, then write, rewrite and proofread the content in the target language to ensure the original meaning, style and form are maintained.

Depending on the context, the translator may need to apply thorough research and consultation techniques to the work at hand in order to widen his or her understanding of the subject. The final product should be polished, eloquently written and completely free of error.

Interpretation is a much more immediate process with no time for second guessing or wordsmithing. The meaning must be rendered on the spot for both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting modes. With simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter must interpret at the pace of the speaker, meaning that the interpreter must listen to the source language and speak the target language at the same time.

With consecutive interpreting, the interpreter must wait for the speaker to finish speaking and then interpret what was said. The interpreter must listen to the target language, take mental or written notes, and then render the information into the target language.

Both professions require considerable language skills that are in high demand, particularly in the business, legal and medical fields. Both translators and interpreters are trained in the professional code of ethics, meaning that they are committed to conveying meaning faithfully, accurately and impartially.

We offer a complete suite of language services, including over-the-phone, video remote, and onsite interpretation along with an easy-to-use translation service. Click here to learn more.

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