Interpreter vs Translator: What Is The Difference?

interpreter vs translator difference language translation

We all live in a world where different regions incorporate different languages. While this adds nuance to society, it can create challenges when people of different nationalities who speak different languages need to communicate with one another. 

That is where interpreters and translators come in. Notice I listed both roles. That is because they are two different jobs! 

Often, many people confuse them as interchangeable and lump the two together. But they actually serve different purposes. Here are the differences between an interpreter vs translator. 

Basic Definitions of Interpreter vs Translator 

Overall, the sole purposes of an interpreter or translator are pretty similar, but they have one key difference that some fail to understand. An interpreter recreates what is said aloud in another language, often in a speech or public speaking setting. 

Meanwhile, a translator takes what is written in one language and converts it to text in the second language. There are numerous situations where either is handy to have to help decipher a language that many in an audience may not know. 

Furthermore, the two also have more similarities and differences. An interpreter must always be an actual person doing the work. While a translator could possibly be a sophisticated computer system, doing the heavy lifting. 

Differences of Interpreters and Translators 

Other than the direct difference in speech versus text with interpreters and translators, there are other differences that arise between the two. Some are a direct result of the major difference of speech versus text already discussed above. 

For example, the amount of time available to decipher the message and reproduce it is completely different between the two. An interpreter may often be forced to quickly explain what someone else is saying in conversation. A translator usually has much more time to put the message into context. Despite this difference, both, of course, need to be as accurate as possible. 

Another difference is the amount of leeway given in terms of alteration of the message they are regurgitating. Again, the interpreter normally operates in an oral conversational space. They may have to alter certain words to accurately depict the original statement. A translator will often take more of a verbatim approach. 

Similarities of Interpreters and Translators 

There are some areas where the two are alike as well. Both jobs require strong accuracy. You would need to be talented and also knowledgeable to take up a profession as an interpreter or a translator. 

Most importantly, both jobs need someone who knows both languages and how they work with- and turn into- each other. Interpreters and translators both have to know what certain phrases and words turn into that don't have a direct match. 

What Did They Say? 

When it comes down to it, the interpreter vs translator discussion shows that both are valuable in the world today. Without the ability to transition between languages, it would be very difficult for unalike people to effectively communicate. 

We need both of these professions to ensure diplomatic relationships between countries. If you are ever in need of an online translator, don't forget that Lingodoc is an excellent option to assist you!

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