Translation vs Interpretation

Translation vs Interpretation

Dear Language Friend,

Summer is now in full gear and we hope you are enjoying it as much as we are. Last month, we delved into the depths of sayings and phrases from around the world. This time around, we are covering a frequently asked question in our industry: what is the difference between translation and interpretation?

Contributed by Chiao Samsenesena. Thanks for reading.


Aren’t they all translators?

Many people are confused about the difference between translation and interpretation, but it is actually quite simple to explain:

Translation means taking written material from a “source language” and rewriting it in a “target language”. Usually, a translator only translates into his or her native language. Writing skills and perfectionism are to be expected from a good translator.

Interpretation, however, consists of listening to an oral speech in the source language and delivering it in the target language. Speaking skills, good concentration and an exceptional memory are essential qualities for an interpreter!

Even though they require different skills and aptitudes, translation and interpretation are strongly related. Below are a few characteristics that apply equally to both translators and interpreters.


A common love of language

First of all, both are perfect jobs for those who love languages. Being a translator or an interpreter requires thorough knowledge of at least 2 languages. It is essential to master both languages so that the target text or speech sounds natural, as if it were not a translation/interpretation at all.

In order to do so, translators and interpreters must have a sharp understanding of the cultures they deal with and be able to communicate appropriately to the target audience. This is probably one of the trickiest sides to the job.

It goes without saying that exhaustive research is equally important for both translators and interpreters.

Now that you have learned the difference between translation and interpretation, LingoStar highly recommends you watch the movie “The Interpreter” It tells the story of a UN interpreter (not a translator!), who overhears a conversation that may not be as trivial as it seems… At LingoStar, paying attention to detail is exactly what sets us apart. Our translators are all natives in each target language and our interpreters are all completely bilingual in their language pair. We constantly strive to offer you the highest quality of service, whether it is translation or interpretation! Please contact us for a free quote.

See you next month for another update on the world of languages!


InterpretAmerica, the 1st North American Summit on Interpreting

Earlier this month, our Managing Director Lenka went to the first North American Summit on Interpreting in Washington, DC. The event gathered more than 150 representatives of the industry. Discussions revolved around the recognition of the profession and the current state of the market. Here is what Lenka had to say about it:

“InterpretAmerica was a very well-organized and instructive summit. The market is still expanding and there is a lot of room for growth. I had the chance to talk to many people with different backgrounds in interpreting and it turns out that the unexplored potential in this sector is quite promising. We will definitely seize the opportunities to provide an even better service to a wider range of clients!”