Translation and interpretation: what’s the difference?

While they are both similar language services, they are not the same. The intricacies of each are mostly unfamiliar to most people, but they ought to be explained to those seeking a professional service.

The key difference between translation and interpretation is in the communication medium: written or spoken. While translation relates to the written word, interpretation relates to the spoken.

This difference accentuates the other characteristics distinguishing translation from interpretation, such as time, accuracy, the number of languages involved and purpose.

Time varies because the output is immediate in the case of simultaneous interpretation, and there is minimal delay in the case of consecutive interpretation. Unlike translation, where it is possible to revise and edit the work, with interpretation there is no opportunity to review the text or consult support material

There are also clear differences in the volume of content when it comes to translators and interpreters. While the former translate 2000-4000 words a day on average, the latter interpret around 150 words a minute, which means interpreters exceed a translator’s average daily output in just 30 minutes.

More than just transposing the words, interpreters must convey a clear message while carrying it between the two audiences. It is therefore essential that, among their other skills, interpreters have good reflexes, can think quickly, have a good memory and excellent diction. 

Nevertheless, despite the requirement for precision, when performing simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter may choose to omit superfluous details. Because they do not face the same restrictions imposed by the volume of content and time, translators can achieve much higher levels of accuracy.

The goal will also influence the solution required. A company wishing to translate training manuals will require a technical translator with knowledge of the tools and topic. However, a company wishing to attend a course with a foreign specialist should hire an interpreter.

Business communication must always be effective and facilitate the transmission of a clear and objective message. Once the channel of communication is selected, it is vital to choose the most appropriate professional. Traductanet offers skilled and experienced professionals who are specialists in translation or interpretation.

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