Translator or Interpreter? Are they the same?

Do you hear the term “translator” and “interpreter” used interchangeably?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding what translators and interpreters do. In this post, I will define what translators and interpreters are and present their similarities and differences.

Translators are proficient in at least two languages to where they can convert a document from one language (source language) into another language (target language). The types of documents will depend on the translator’s field of expertise. For example, I translate mostly legal documents i.e. contracts. Translators must have excellent reading comprehension skills in the source language and equally good writing skills in the target language.

Interpreters, on the other hand, also master at least two languages. However, they work with the spoken word. They convert verbal or oral language from one language into another. An example would be when the Foreign Minister of Spain gives a presentation at the United Nations. An interpreter would interpret the presentation verbally from Spanish into another language.

Translators and Interpreters are similar in that they are bilingual. However, they differ in their skills: translators deal with reading comprehension and writing skills while interpreters need great listening comprehension and speaking skills.

It is important to know the difference between translators and interpreters for many reasons. In my next post, I will go into the different modes of interpretation.

Posted in interpretation, translation

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