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Interpretation or Translation?

Feb 28, 2014

The words “interpretation” and “translation” as they are used casually in the English language have completely different definitions in the language services industry.

For example, if used casually, the word “interpret” sounds like a rough explanation of theSitting-Female-Interpreter—Elizabeth original and far from being an accurate word-for-word translation. In
actuality, for their professional definitions, these words have less to do with the level of accuracy and more to do with the mode in which they are done. Interpretation is the word used for spoken and sign languages and translation is exclusively used to refer to act of translating written works.

Additionally, more than just the definition, these two professions require completely different skill sets. This blog post will explore some of these critical differences.

Direction and fluency

In interpretation and translation, the official terminology for the language of the original spoken or written message is called the Source language. The language to which the message is being interpreted or translated is called the target language.

Properly trained interpreters, including Voiance interpreters, have the ability to interpret back and forth between both the source and target languages. Translators on the other hand, rarely translate both directions: they usually translate from their learned language into their native language.

Delayed versus real time

Translation takes a lot more time to deliver than interpretation because what is translated has to convey the exact tones, meanings, and nuances as the original text. In their work, translators usually have access to glossaries, dictionaries, and even experts to make sure the meaning is translated exactly as the author intended. According to the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), “a translator may translate 2000-3000 words a day, while an interpreter has to keep up with around 150 words a minute.”

There are many ways to interpret, but the most commonly used forms of interpretation are:

1. Simultaneous interpreting; “providing the target-language message at roughly the Standing-Female-Interpreter—Elizabethsame time as the source-language message is being produced.”

2. Consecutive interpreting; “waiting until the speaker has finished before beginning the interpretation.”

In simultaneous interpretation, interpreters do not have time to look up words or phrases and must rely on their own prior knowledge. While simultaneous interpreters strive to retain the exact tone and meaning as the source message, they may not have time to include nuances or render absolutely perfect interpretations.

At Voiance, our interpreters use consecutive interpreting which allows them to consistently and accurately convey the tone, meaning, and nuances of the original message. Our interpreters’ high accuracy rate is in part due to rigorous note-taking, listening, and memory skills. Using consecutive interpretation, our interpreters are also able to look up terms, request repetitions and verify critical information to ensure accuracy.

Translating and Interpreting

While there are many similar aspects to the work done by interpreters and translators, as you can see, the qualifications and skills needed are completely different and interpreters and translators do not swap jobs easily. To read more about the skills needed by an interpreter, go to our blog post here.