Key Differences Between a Translator and an Interpreter

Translation and interpretation are two very closely related terms in the linguistic discipline. However, the two are rarely performed by the same individual. The difference between the two jobs lies in their aptitude, language, training, and skills. The difference between the two is so substantial that on a handful of people in the world are able to do both

Many of our potential clients contact us and ask for an interpreter when they are actually looking for a translator, and as a consequence, it leads to a certain level of ambiguity in the communication.

People familiar with the study of linguistics have a firm grasp over the distinction between a translator and an interpreter.

Let’s see the two disciplines side by side and understand what makes one different from the other and what is common between them.

Similarities between Translators and Interpreters

  • Both translators and interpreters work in the field of linguistics. They have a source language from which they’re working and one target language the one being interpreted
  • Both translators and interpreters work into their mother tongue
  • They both extract a message from one party and convey the message to the target party
  • Both professions require professional qualifications and credentials

Difference between translators and interpreters

Other than a few similarities, both translators and interpreters have their key distinctions which make them unique, creating different industry demands

  • First and foremost, an interpreter works with the words that are spoken rather than what’s written
  • An interpreter is paid but the day or by the hour, whereas a translator is someone who charges per word or sometimes per page basis
  • An interpreter is occasionally required to interpret both, from and into the mother tongue, such as interpreters are often needed in legal matters such as in courts, police stations, hospitals and so on. A translator, on the other hand, works into the mother tongue
  • The tools that are used by a translator are completely different from the ones used by an interpreter. Translators use computer-aided software (CAT), computers, and dictionaries for translations purposes. An interpreter, on the other hand, uses a microphone and a headphone along with a notepad for taking notes. An interpreter also needs to have ample language information as well, helping them understand the context of the message.
  • On a certain level, a translator has more time, they can use dictionaries and sometimes not even required to translate at the moment. For an interpreter, the job is a bit too difficult. Interpretation also requires being attention, understand expressions, learning the context, being familiar with the cultural conundrums.

If you are looking for a professional interpretation service, we at Frederick Interpreting Agency are more than happy to give you the best there is.