How to Know When You Need an Interpreter vs When You Need a Translator

by | Apr 25, 2022

Do you know when you need an interpreter vs when you need a translator? If you’ve ever asked this question, then we’re here to help set the record straight.

The role of an interpreter and translator are often confused because they both provide similar services. Both roles require linguistic expertise and extensive cultural knowledge. However, there are major differences that set the two apart.

Today, we’ll highlight the major differences between interpreters and translators so you will know which to use and when.


Determining Whether You Need an Interpreter vs When You Need a Translator

Let’s begin with the basics. The definition of both terms is important in understanding how they differ.


What is Interpretation?

Interpretation is a service that is provided in the present. It is presented live, either simultaneously or directly following the original speech, with no assistance from scripts, dictionaries, or other reference materials.


What is Translation?

The process of transferring written content from one (source) language to another (target) language while retaining the original meaning of the text is known as translation.

Now that we’ve got the definitions covered, let’s dive into the roles of translators and interpreters and compare the differences.


The Role of a Translator

As we mentioned before, a translator examines the source material and, if necessary, conducts extra research to ensure that the original content’s intent and tone of voice are kept in the translation.

A translator’s objective is for readers to read the translation as if it were the original. They must also take into account any cultural nuances, such as slang or other terms that do not translate precisely.

Translators must be able to read the source language well, however, they don’t necessarily have to speak it fluently. They often only translate into their own tongue. Almost all translation work is done on a computer, and most assignments are received and submitted online. Before becoming final, translations are frequently revised.

Like many professional writers, translators specialize in particular fields such as law, medicine, business, technology, and science. Specialization demands a thorough understanding of the subject and its jargon in both the source and target languages.


The Role of an Interpreter

Interpreters deal with live spoken words, transforming speech from one language to another almost immediately. This entails considerably more than simply being able to converse in two languages fluently.

The interpreter must be able to convey the speaker’s manner and tone while accounting for cultural, linguistic, and context variances. The translated message should be heard by the listeners as if it had been uttered in their native language.

Most interpreters function bidirectionally, which means they work both to and from the target and source languages. Additionally, simultaneous interpreting involves the interpreter listening and comprehending in one language while simultaneously offering interpretation in a second language.

The interpreter must also hear multiple complete sentences in the source language before the speaker pauses to allow the interpreter to deliver an interpretation in the target language. It would also help a great deal if interpreters hear the speaker clearly in order to perform their task efficiently.

Being able to see the speaker while he is presenting has proven to be an advantage for most interpreters.


When Will you Need an Interpreter?

Here are is a scenario where using an interpreter is beneficial:

You travel to France on vacation but have no knowledge of the French language. While on your trip you become sick and are rushed to the hospital. The doctor treating you only speaks French and the language barrier is preventing him from understanding what your illness is. In this case, having a capable interpreter at the hospital who can act as a middleman and allow you to communicate with the doctor is helpful. It is critical for the hospital to have an interpreter who not only understands and communicates in both English and French but also understands medical terminology.


When Will you Need a Translator?

After you leave the hospital in France the doctor gives you medication, however, the instructions on administering them are in French. Hiring a translator in this instance can guarantee that you or anyone who doesn’t understand the French instructions on your medicine bottle know when, how much, and how frequently to take your medication. Depending on your illness, this service can mean the difference between life and death.


Let’s Wrap Up

Although the roles of a translator and interpreter vary, they are both equally important. Both contribute tremendously to our lives in more ways than we know. By now, you should understand when you need an interpreter vs when you need a translator.

At Day Interpreting our team understands the importance of accurate and timely interpretation services. We offer 100% accurate human interpretation and translations and are excited to help you expand your reach. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our professional services.

Kayan Milwood
Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

Kayan Milwood

Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.

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