The technologically advanced world we live in has enabled enterprises to reach out to foreign markets beyond the limits of their towns, cities, and home nations.

This can be problematic since it is tough to communicate with a brand-new community in the same way that a firm from their own nation would. How can your company compete in a worldwide market when one of the most significant impediments is language?

Both interpretation and translation have a purpose when it comes to interpreting your message for a new global market. But do you fully comprehend the distinction between these two linguistic subsets?

What’s the Difference Between Translation and Interpretation?

Translation and interpretation are two phrases that are sometimes used interchangeably while looking for professional translation services. The distinction between translating and interpreting pertains to how the languages are translated.

Interpreters interpret foreign languages vocally and, in most cases, in real-time. Translators interact in several languages as well, but they do it in writing and over a longer period of time to allow for editing and formatting.

The distinction between translator and interpreter is that, while both occupations need a high degree of expertise and proficiency in at least two languages, translation involves the transfer of writing from one language to another, whereas interpreters process speaking languages.

Both translation and interpretation need excellent communication skills, and while they may appear to be comparable, the two professions necessitate very different methodologies in practice.

It is critical to understand the distinctions between each service in order to deliver optimal language solutions. 


Translation is a broad phrase that refers to a variety of language services that include transferring the meaning of a written document in one language into another.

Linguistic and cultural abilities are important, but effective translators must also be able to write fluently. They are frequently professionals in a certain subject and are exceedingly detail-oriented. Skilled translators pay special attention not just to the text’s contents, but also to its style and tone, as well as its grammatical structure. To provide an accurate translation, all of these components must operate together.

The majority of translators employ computer-assisted tools in their job. This implies they must be adept at transforming source material into a workable file format. Professional translation services ensure that your information is not only translated but also properly structured and adheres to the requirements of your target language.

What Skills Do Translators Require?

Translators must be fluent in both the source and destination languages. They must also be familiar with the idioms and colloquialisms of the source language into which they are translating. Translators are often natural speakers of the target language.

Translators use dictionaries and glossaries to assist them in translating content published in the original language. Although translating typically has a deadline, it lacks the real-time urgency that distinguishes interpreting. When one pressure is relieved, another is added: translation consumers often have a higher expectation of accuracy.

Aside from writing skills, translators must have strong reading comprehension in their source language (their second language) as well as subject area competence. This is why many translators specialize in sectors such as marketing, medical, science, sustainability, tourism, finance, and so on. While translators have access to a variety of materials online, knowing the subject matter is still extremely beneficial.

When Do You Need Translation Services?

Translation services are useful in specialized settings, such as user manuals, instructions, and areas where every word counts. Translators, unlike interpreters, can use dictionaries and do linguistic studies while they read the paper. Interpreters, on the other hand, must rely on their preparatory notes, adapting to the speech as quickly as possible and abstaining from utilizing dictionaries during assignments.


Interpretation necessitates a comprehensive understanding of both the source and target languages and is work that is loosely based on the original material rather than an exact translation of spoken content. A word-for-word explanation would be wrong and would make little sense to the listener because various languages differ in their pedagogic use and cultural intonations.

Instead, interpretation is concerned with swiftly condensing the overall meaning of the information into culturally suitable language. It is, in some ways, paraphrasing. The original messaging is retained, but there are subtle modifications in how it is conveyed that make sense to the international audience you are addressing.

Interpreters, unlike translators, may be called upon to function as diplomatic mediators in specific situations and frequently require abilities linked to public speaking. They must communicate shortly after the original speech, with no assistance from scripts, glossaries, style guidelines, or other reference resources. The only resources available to an interpreter are expertise, a strong memory, and rapid thinking.

Expert understanding of the subject area is just as crucial as interpreting expertise when selecting a firm to provide interpreting services. Interpreters must also have exceptional listening skills.

Types of Interpretations

Simultaneous interpretation

entails real-time translation from one language into another. This form of interpretation is appropriate for interviews, medical appointments, and court depositions.

Consecutive interpretation

entails listening to the source material and then repeating the phrases or utterances in the target language. This style of interpretation is used at conferences, business meetings, and lectures.

What Skills Do Interpreters Require?

Interpreters must be fluent in both their source and destination languages. If they can’t follow the context of the dialogue, they won’t be able to paraphrase it correctly. As a result, professional interpreters must be bilingual.

Interpreters are orally proficient since they deal with the spoken word. They are familiar with each language’s spoken norms, regionalisms, and colloquialisms. They do not, however, seek to comprehend what is stated word for word. Attempting to translate a phrase into another language in real-time would prevent the original meaning from being clearly transferred and would confuse both parties. Instead, paraphrasing is important for interpretation. Interpreters listen to what is spoken, grasp what it means, and then turn it into new words.

Interpreting may be a high-pressure profession with a lot depending on effectively relaying the information. Interpreters must be able to function well under pressure and love public speaking. There will be many eyes on the interpreter in various instances.

When Do You Need Interpretation Services?

In conferences, commercial meetings, and governmental sessions, interpreting is essential. It is also effective at news conferences, educational seminars, and even religious services. Including interpretation in any of these meetings encourages inclusion and diversity in your audience. It is critical to consider the event participants’ multilingualism: hearing the speaker speak in many languages (including sign language) is the first step toward appreciating the cultural worth of languages.

Key Similarities Between Translation and Interpretation

There are several differences between the two, but there are also some commonalities, such as:

  • Use and knowledge of at least two languages at the native or near-native level
  • Capability to paraphrase while retaining the content of the original message
  • Appropriate training and experience are required since these professionals conduct difficult activities in order to provide clear and concise communication in a worldwide context.

Do I Need an Interpreter or a Translator?

The necessity for a professional translation or interpreter is determined by your organization’s goals and needs. While both sectors use a source and target language, they play different roles and employ different skill sets in their service delivery.

If you require language services for a live-action speech, an interpreter with extensive understanding will be used to deliver the content to your target audiences. When dealing with websites, documents, or other written materials, a translator is required to work with the text’s source and destination languages.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that both translation and interpretation involve converting information or messages from one source language into another, but the former requires more precision and fluency because it is mostly presented in written form, whereas the latter is an on-the-spot event that reduces the need for proper precision.  

Ultimately, both interpreters and translators strive toward intercultural and multilingual communication and comprehension.

Why Language Services?

Words have a lot of power, and the act of giving, receiving, and sharing information helps connect and comprehend people’s emotions and opens the door to persuade their sentiments, ideas, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes about a problem. Translators and interpreters understand exactly how to weave words together to generate the desired impression and outcome. Language services ensure that qualified specialists are proficient in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as well as the capacity to communicate information in a clear, succinct manner.

Ready to Hire a Translator or Interpreter? 

Translation and interpretation services are critical in forging long-term relationships between nations, customers, patients, and business partners. They make certain that they grasp the concerns and do not disrespect the country or culture. At inWhatLanguage, we can provide you with the greatest language services and quotes when you need them.  

Whether it’s our network of professional linguists, technology, or our team of industry-expert professionals, our team is your team and we’re here to help you succeed. From focused help to managing your program end-to-end, we’ll tailor services to your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more.