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Written by Montserrat González

Montserrat is a professional translator who likes to read and write fictional stories. There's nothing she enjoys more than spending time with her friends and family.

September 23, 2020

Interpreter or translator. What’s the difference?


If you have recently started searching for translation service providers for your website or company, you’ll be hearing these two words often: interpreter and translator.

Both terms are often used interchangeably and, although these professionals convey a message from one language to another, the way they do so is different. So, you should be aware of the differences in their practice so you can request the most appropriate service.


The translator’s work

A translator is responsible for transferring a message to another language through writing. Never orally. That is why translation is not an immediate process.

In order to carry out their work, a translator must know to the fullest extent the target language and the terminology used in the document. By not requiring an immediate process, the professional has to their favor the possibility to investigate, review, correct errors, and verify any questions with the client who requested the translation, to ensure a more accurate document.


The interpreter’s work

An interpreter is responsible for conveying oral messages. They listen to a speaker in the source language and pass it on in another, either simultaneously, consecutively or bilaterally, among others.

Professionals interpreters posses a thorough understanding of both source and target languages, as well as an excellent memory and ability to face the problems that may occur during the conferences or meeting where the interpretation is carried out.


Translator vs Interpreter

Now you know that even though both tasks are aimed at facilitating communication, the skills and functions of the professionals who perform them are different.

For example, professional translatorshave a thorough knowledge of the languages they work with and a perfect spelling in order to convey the message in an impeccable way. They also have a great capacity of concentration and very detailed reading skills to be able to interpret the twists and metaphors that texts may have.

While professional interpreters have excellent oratory and active listening skills, besides a great general culture knowledge. Usually these professionals are accustomed to confronting complicated situations in conferences, press conferences or business meetings, because interpreting can become quite complicated when the speaker talks fast or slowly, has a difficult accent, or uses phrases, sayings, or puns do not exist in the target language.

If you were searching for any of these services but had doubts about it, now you know the differences between an interpreter and a translator, and how to choose and request the correct service according to your needs.


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