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Translation vs. Interpretation

September 19th, 2014

While both translation and interpretation deal with transposing information from one language to another, each requires a very specific skill set depending on which language service is needed. At the most basic level, the two forms of transposing of language appear to be relatively similar to the other, yet the uses for each and the process for implementing them are quite different.

According to Dictionary.com, translation is defined as “the rendering of something [a written document] into another language or into one’s own from another language” (“translation”). In contrast, interpretation is defined by the online dictionary as a translation completed orally (“interpretation”).

According to Lionbridge FAQ page, there are five main contrasts that differentiate translation from interpretation. These key areas include; spoken versus written, real time versus delayed, level of accuracy, direction and fluency, and tangible versus intangible (Lionbridge). In this post we will address several of these key areas for both types of language services.

Translation, as discussed previously, is the transposing of language in the written form. This requires the information to be translated over a longer period of time and only from one language to another. This allows the translator to use additional resources to best convey the meaning of the document. The well-trained translator possesses excellent writing and research skills.

Interpretation, on the other hand, happens instantaneously in the presence of clients. It is also multi-directional as the interpreter represents the “middle-man” that relays information between two other groups speaking two different languages. This requires the interpreter to use even greater accuracy as they are under a pressure of time. The factor of time in interpretation often forces the linguist to “omit some details of the original speech” (Lionbridge) in order to achieve the overall message, rather than convey each individual word. For an interpreter to achieve accuracy they must be excellent at public speaking and possess exceptional interpersonal skills.

At CommGap, our services include both translation and interpretation for a wide variety of languages. Our highly-qualified and trained linguists strive for accuracy regardless of whether they are interpreting or translating.

Works Cited
“interpretation.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 10 Sep. 2014. .

“translation.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 10 Sep. 2014. .

“What’s the Difference Between Interpretation and Translation?” Lionbridge. Lionbridge Technologies, 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. .

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