Translator Vs Interpreter

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Many people we come across today are confused between a translator and an interpreter and the roles played by them. It is very rare for the same person to provide both the translation and interpretation services. Both of these are high demand linguistic services. With businesses, politics, and other domains going global, these skills are highly needed. This article brings forward the differences between the two and highlights their significant roles in the linguistic industry which is not known by many of us.

The Translators:
• Translators are the ones who are responsible for the conversion of written text from one language to another.
• They need to have a sound knowledge of both the source and the target languages. Their work needs to look as native as possible.
• They can refer to dictionaries or other reference materials for their translations. Numerous well-renowned agencies are providing high-quality translation services.
• They find their use in a wide range of domains such as literature, website localisation, newspapers, etc.
• A good translator knows deeply about the culture, current affairs and a brief history of their target language and audience.

The Interpreters:
• The job of an interpreter requires a much faster response than that of a translator.
• An interpreter is one who can translate in both the directions instantaneously.
• They are expected to have exceptionally sharp listening and memorising skills that help them translate simultaneously. He/she needs to listen to what the speaker is saying now and memorise it while translating what the speaker had said about 5 to seconds back.
• Since their job requires on-spot translation, they are not able to take the help of dictionaries or any other reference materials.
• They are also expected to have a profound understanding of the culture and colloquial language of the people of the other language to be able to understand the idioms and proverbs of the people there that might be culturally-specific to them.
• They are required in political and business gatherings, etc.

Now you must be having a fair idea of the significant roles played by the translators and interpreter and the need and difference between the two of them. It is very rare that you will come across a person well-versed with both these roles.

Pradeep Neupane

About Pradeep Neupane

Hi, My name is Pradeep Neupane and I belong to a mountainous country Nepal.

5 thoughts on “Translator Vs Interpreter

  1. Very clear and awesome explanation, Pradeep! If I had a dollar for every time potential clients confuse me for interpreter, I’d be a millionaire 🙂 Hopefully, this article will help bring more clarity and solve this problem once and for all!

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    1. Thanks Dmitry for appreciating it. I think first world countries people don’t have many confusions regarding these two terms but countries like ours, most of the people don’t even consider such professions really do exist. I had a really hard time making my family members understand what I do.

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      1. Interestingly enough, Pradeep! Even here, in Canada. People who never hired a translator or interpreter before always confuse interpreters for translators. Every now and then I receive a phone call from a potential client who found me online and they tell me that they’re looking for a translator. As conversation unfolds, I realize that in fact they’re looking for an interpreter and not a translator. This happens way too often.

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  2. I think we can all relate to being mistaken for an interpreter or a translator 🙂 I agree: the skills for each of these professions are so specific and multifaceted that it is very hard to develop all of them at the same time

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