The Difference Between Translation Services and Interpreting

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The Difference Between Translation Services and Interpreting

We explore the finer details of translation services vs interpreting services

On the surface, translation and interpreting can appear to be the same thing. While both involve a talented bilingual individual, a source language and a target language, translation services and interpreting services are two very different beasts indeed! At its very simplest, translation involves the written word and interpreting is spoken. But the differences go far deeper than that.

Skills for Translation Services
In general terms, a translation is made from a document that has already been written. The translator needs to understand the meaning and context behind the translation, and convey that into the target language. This can be done from home, and with the aid of dictionaries, reference materials and of course, the internet. Most of the time, translators will translate only into their native language and require the ability to not only be able to translate, but to write with skill and flair in the same style as the source text. At Reflective Source, we know the importance of using only native-language translators for our translation services (as highlighted in our recent blog ), and we mainly have native speakers on our books.
Skills for Interpreting Services
Interpreting, on the other hand, is largely live, and requires the ability to translate to and from both languages instantly, which is no mean feat! While interpreting services used to mean being there in-person, with today’s technology this can be done via live video links, telephone or through internet services like Skype . Interpreters don’t have the luxury of referring to dictionaries, and they must be able to think quickly on their feet, as well as being familiar with all of the cultural nuances of both languages to be able to effectively convey the correct messages. In some settings, interpreters must be able to keep a constant stream of information going – imagine trying to listen to speech, interpret a few seconds behind whilst still listening and keep it going for long stretches! Multi-tasking at its finest!
While both translations and interpretations require a high degree of accuracy, they do vary somewhat. With time on the side of the translator, a more word-for-word technique is employed, while still retaining the tone and style of the source text. Interpreters, however, will often have to skilfully paraphrase to get across the right concept in the given time, while remaining faithful to the original speech. Not only this, but they have to take into account the tone, the inflections and other subtle nuances of the spoken word, and convey these to the audience.
Professional Qualifications
In most cases, translators and interpreters will have a similar, but fundamentally different set of qualifications. Our tried and tested professional translators hold a degree or equivalent in translation, and an additional qualification (sometimes even two!) in another subject. This is on top of at least three years relevant industry experience. Our interpreters have a degree in interpreting and again, often an additional specialism. Many of the interpreters on our books have undergone the strict Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. Interpreters who work in the public sector are often required to pass further exams and professional checks, and are members of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NPRSI) who work to a strict code of conduct. We even have our own code of conduct for interpreters who may not work in the public sector. We understand the differences between translation services and interpreting, so whatever you’re looking for, we have the right person with the right credentials for your job. To chat to us about your interpreting or translation services needs, contact us today.