People often confuse translation with interpretation and it's no wonder given how often the terms are used interchangeably in pop culture. Although interpreting and translation are two closely related linguistic disciplines, they are not synonymous. In fact, due to their level of specialization, they are not often even performed by the same people. Experts emphasize the difference in skills, training, aptitude and even language knowledge are so substantial that few people can do both with equal success on a professional level.

On the surface, the difference between interpreting and translation is only the difference in the medium; interpreters translate orally and translators interpret written text. At Ablio, only skilled interpretation is offered. However, there are actually multiple differences in addition to this one.

Accuracy

As interpreting is to speech as translating is to writing, it is natural that interpreting would focus more upon conveying an idea and less upon the style or art of deliverance. Of course, both disciplines aim for complete accuracy. Interpreters, however, face the seemingly insurmountable task of achieving that accuracy within the context of an active conversation. Based on immediate demands, it can be expedient for interpreters to omit some details of the original speech as they interpret into the target language. Translators, on the other hand, produce work in a context that allws for time to evaluate and revise each word and sentence before delivering their product. This means translators can achieve a greater fidelity to the original.

Direction

Interpreters must, by nature of their position, be fluent in both the original language and the target language to translate in both directions, or bi-directional. Additionally, they must be able to do this immediately and without the aid of reference materials. So demanding is this sort of work that interpreters often need to rest between sessions to avoid mental exhaustion.

Professional translators typically work in a single direction; translating into their native language. This means translators do not have to master the immediate fluency of language required of an interpreter. The primary skills of a translator are comprehending the source language and using their knowledge of the target country's cultural and language norms to create an effective translated product.

Time

Interpreting occurs in real time; in person, on the phone, or via video conferencing. Translation, on the other hand, involves the written word and it normally takes place long after a text is created. This gives the translator the benefit of accessing resources — dictionaries, glossaries, subject matter experts — to produce a precise and effectual end document.

Personality

The work of both translators and interpreters extends beyond the delivery of facts and includes issues of style, nuances of expression. Interpreters face the task of capturing tone, inflection, voice quality, and other elements of the spoken word. Whereas translators grapple with maintaining literary elements like allusions, cadence, metaphors, and recurrent themes.

Despite the differences in the skills of interpreters and translators, both are bilingual specialists who share an excitement for conveying meaning to people who would otherwise be unable to understand the information at hand.