“We need a translator for an appointment next week.” “Do you have a Spanish translator available?” These are questions we hear all the time when speaking with clients. While using “interpreter” and “translator” interchangeably isn’t exactly an insult, it is incorrect. Although many people use the terms synonymously and they both transfer meaning between languages, the actual professions and skill sets needed couldn’t be more different!
Interpreters work with the spoken word. Whether they are on site with a client or interpreting via telephone or video, they are transmitting an interpretation of spoken words in real time. Interpreters are used daily for business meetings, court proceedings, medical appointments, events, and conferences. Interpreters that predominantly work in person with clients are always on the go! Their car doubles as their office and time management is a key skill for them to stay on top of their schedule which can vary greatly day to day.
Translators work with the written word. They transform one written language into another. Document translation takes time and is very precise and detail oriented. While an interpreter can get creative with their word choice in conveying meaning to one other person, a translator must take many more factors into consideration such as the organizations preferred terminology and the target audience’s demographics. There are many ways to translate just one sentence. A translator’s work is written in stone so to speak and there is much less room for error. Translators typically work from home or an office and are often on their computer for hours on end! They are extremely detail oriented and time management is also vital for juggling multiple deadlines.
Make sense? We hope this helps you understand our world of language services better and assists you the next time you need to book an interpreter or request a translation ;)
For quick future reference, we have summarized the information into an infographic below!