Taking your business to an international audience often requires language expertise — and lots of it.
Thankfully, you don’t always have to be fluent in your clients’ languages to connect with them, but you do need skilled translators and interpreters on your team.
So what exactly is the difference between an interpreter and a translator, and who’s right for your project?
In this article, we will cover some of the main differences, along with tips for finding the perfect interpreter or translator for your job at hand.
First, let’s cover the biggest difference between an interpreter vs translator.
- Interpreters: Interpreters work with spoken language, translating oral speech — usually as it happens.
- Translators: Translators work with the written word to translate documents, website copy, books, emails, and other written content
What skills does an interpreter need?
Interpreters are nerdy language experts. They are often extroverts with incredible public speaking skills.
Interpreters must be fluent in two (or more) languages since they don’t have the luxury of looking up words or phrases or spending the time to get each sentence perfect before delivering it. This means that interpreters need the ability to think on their feet, replacing the idioms and phrases in one language with a near equivalent from another.
They also have to be able to remember what they’re saying while they’re listening for the next sentence so they can translate it accurately.
Minimum requirements for an interpreter are:
- Excellent public speaking skills
- Sharp, accurate recall
- Extensive familiarity with the culture, customs, and idioms of both languages
- Familiarity with any technical terminology or jargon involved in the type of communication being translated
What skills does a translator need?
Translators, on the other hand, usually live their best life behind a desk or screen.
They will often be more introverted (although many are not) and will have a passion for language (and great writing!) that’s hard to match.
Translators primarily work with the written word. At first glance, it might seem like they have the easier job — but that’s not necessarily the case.
Translators have to be excellent writers in the target language. In fact, most skilled translators will only translate into their native language, even though they’re fluent in more than one.
Even the best linguists tend to write better in their native tongue. Translators often deal with legal documents, so even the smallest error can have huge implications. When they translate a web page or marketing materials, they’re using sales and marketing skills as well.
Translators often specialise in specific fields of work and will often use digital translation aids as they work.
Translators must have:
- On-point writing skills that span a huge variety of different formats
- An intimate understanding of the culture behind both languages
- Deep familiarity with the subject being translated
- Sales, marketing, and/or legal skills, depending on the type of translation work needed
How can I find the best translator or interpreter?
Building a strong relationship with a translator or interpreter can make all the difference in your company’s growth. Reach out to us to find out how we can help you make your international business goals a reality. Our accurate, reliable, down-to-earth professionals love languages and have been working in the field for years.
When you contact us, we’ll talk to you about your project and goals, and we’ll connect you with the perfect interpreter or translator for the job — someone who understands your field, speaks both languages fluently, and is willing to go the extra mile to make your project a success. Contact us to get the ball rolling!
Content created and owned by Glasgoweb Ltd.