Latest update date: February 07, 10

Cultural diversity and multilingualism have increased the demand for language services, prompting those interested in the industry to think about becoming an interpreter or translator.

Translation and interpretation are the main services that the translation industry provides to many clients around the world. These two services are related, but they are also different. Each service is a separate discipline, requiring specialization. It is difficult when one person is both a translator and an interpreter.

The disciplines are different in training, skills and aptitude. Even their knowledge of the language is different. Many people who are not too familiar with language services think that translation and interpretation are the same. Both deal with different languages, translators work on text while interpreters deal with oral language. In this respect, the two disciplines are the same but the skills required to become a translator or an interpreter are different.

Note: Experience for translators

Skills Required Between Translating And Interpreting

When you think about your future career, you need to look at the positives and negatives of a profession and it can take time to make a decision. If your thinking about becoming an interpreter or a translator, here are some important things you need to know about each discipline.

Translator's Skills

A translator understands the source language and its culture. Translators can use reference materials such as books and dictionaries while working on a translation project. Using references allows the translator to produce the finished product clearly and accurately in any target language. A good translator should have excellent writing skills.

When thinking of becoming an interpreter or a translator, understand from the very beginning that writing skills are very important for a translator. While the ability to speak two or three languages ​​is an advantage for translators, it is rare for them to write on the same topic equally in all the languages ​​they speak.

It should be noted here that many translators are not bilingual. This is limited although it allows translators to specialize. So he or she will only translate into the language he or she speaks in order to make up their translation correctly.

Note: Training to become a professional translator

Interpreter Skills

While interpreting, the person must understand the source language (from the speaker) and interpret it into the target language (to the listener) without using any references or dictionaries. Several types of interpreting services are available, with parallel interpretation and serial interpretation being the most common. Large meetings, seminars and conferences attended by foreign participants often use parallel interpretation. Serial interpretation is more suitable for smaller meetings and gatherings.

In parallel interpretation, the interpreter listens to the speaker and begins interpreting after a few seconds. In serial interpretation, the interpreter renders what is said into the target language after the speaker pauses.

The main characteristic that an interpreter possesses is excellent hearing. A good interpreter must be able to process, remember what the speaker is saying immediately, and provide a translation of words into the target language after a short pause. This process usually takes about five to ten seconds.

Interpreting is a very demanding job. In addition to being an excellent listener, you must also be an excellent speaker. An interpreter needs the intellectual capacity to translate and interpret the information he or she receives immediately into another language. The information may include colloquialisms, idioms, and other culturally relevant references into words and phrases that will be easily understood by the target audience.

Note: .6 most useful tips for interpreters

Translators and interpreters have one thing in common: the ability to interpret. While some translation projects require word-for-word translation, interpreting is essentially what a translator or interpreter does. The interpreter listens to the speaker, processes the message quickly and translates it into the target language in the allotted time.

A translator does the same thing but has more time to produce the translation, with the help of several translation tools, such as reference books, dictionaries, and computer aided tools. as translation memory. The translator then captures the meaning of the source document and interprets the written text into the target language. With more time, translators can find the right words or phrases to replace culturally referenced words, colloquialisms and idioms from the source language with a more culturally appropriate language. cultural aspects of the target language.

Difference Between Translators and Interpreters

You already know the core skills that each discipline requires. To help you make the right decision, whether becoming an interpreter or a translator is the best career choice, learn the difference between the two.

You already know the main responsibilities of a translator and interpreter. Both handle different languages. Translators process the written word, while the interpreter translates the spoken word into another language for a specific group of people.

Apart from the above, several other aspects distinguish the two.

All Do Freelance Work (Freelancer)

Most translators are self employed if freelance. They do all stages of the translation process themselves, from writing to quality control. Many people find permanent work from a translation agency. Agencies typically form a team, with project managers, proofreaders, editors, quality assurance, and publishers to ensure high-quality output.

An interpreter usually works directly with other people. A conference interpreter who interprets in parallel often works with a team of two or more interpreters. On the other hand, some interpreters work side-by-side with their clients.

Note: 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Translator

Flexibility in Work

Translators can work anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection. They can travel the world and still secure their work, or receive translation requests from clients via email or other means, or research as needed, using online references and Connect with customers to capture details. They can then upload or submit the final translation work according to the client's needs.

Usually, interpreters must be present in person when performing their job. They must be in a forum, conference or seminar, or near clients when performing other types of interpreting work, such as serial interpreting, silent interpreting, or escort interpreting. They must attend court hearings and legal proceedings if they are legal interpreters. The only time interpreters are away from clients is when conducting telephonic and remote video interpretation, a service commonly used by hospitals and medical centers.

Work Speed

Both interpretation and translation require concentration and seriousness. Both involve complex processes but interpreting is more stressful. The job is more demanding, as interpreting requires real-time performance. Interpreters do not have time to review and edit their work. Their language base is excellent. Their listening skills and interpretive expertise should always be in focus. They must send a message to a specific audience a few seconds after the speaker provides the information.

Translators have more time to do their jobs. Although they have deadlines to meet and set work schedules. They have time to research, translate and edit their work. Translators can use reference materials, dictionaries, and other computer-aided tools that make their work easier and faster. If they work alone, they also act as editors, proofreaders, and QA. If they work for a translation company, they usually have a translation team that helps ensure that the translation format is correct and the output is 100% accurate.

Note: Top 4 CV writing tips for translators


Interpreters must stay focused on their work, because they must listen attentively to the speaker, quickly process the ideas and thoughts they receive, and relay them in the target language. At the same time, the interpreter must listen to the next set of information the speaker is providing.

Translators can translate blocks of information from the source document, stopping and doing other things before returning to the translation project. Translators don't have the luxury of time while they are working while translators can even choose to listen to music while they work.

If you have a choice between being an interpreter or a translator, try both because you already know the language you know.

For example, you can listen to a news report and try to explain it to others. Or you could read something, such as an article, a magazine article, or a passage from a book, and try translating it. It is a way to assess whether you are comfortable with translating or interpreting?

This is the main characteristics and differences between compiler and interpreter. Idichthuat Hopefully these suggestions can help you decide to become a translator or interpreter in the nearest future.

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