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Interpretation Vs. Translation

The key difference between translation and interpretation lies within the choice of communication channel. Simply put, translation deals with written communication, while interpreting is all about the spoken word.

Translators work on written documents, including books, essays, legal documents, medical records, websites, instruction manuals, subtitles for film or TV, or any other form of information in written form. Interpreters, on the other hand, are involved in projects that require live translation; for example conferences and business meetings, medical appointments and legal proceedings.

Both translators and interpreters have a deep linguistic and cultural knowledge of their working languages, as well as the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly. It is, however, important to highlight the distinctive features of these two professions.

Translators generally work from their home computers, and tend to specialize in a particular field. Good translators have excellent written skills and are usually perfectionists by nature, paying particular attention to the style of the source documents, as well as the accuracy and significance of the terms used within their translations.

Unlike translators, interpreters do not provide a word-for-word translation; instead, they transpose spoken messages from one language into another, instantly and accurately. Interpreters work in real-time situations, in direct contact with both the speaker and the audience. They rely primarily on their linguistic expertise acquired through training and experience - a sentence in one language may be rendered an entirely different way in another. Good interpreters are endowed with very quick reflexes, as well as a good memory and speaking voice. An interpreter is often more than an on-demand translator, however - they also act as a facilitator between speaker and listener, both linguistically and diplomatically.