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Do you need Interpretation? Or is it Translation…?

Those of us in the language services industry tend to assume everyone understands the technical terms of our profession, for example, that everyone knows the difference between interpretation and translation.

So, when a client calls up requesting “translation”, we immediately assume we need to provide a translator. However, only after numerous back and forth communication, do we begin to realize that what the client actually needs is an interpreter for “interpretation”.

Indeed, this confusion has even spawned widely adopted nonsensical words, such as “translator interpreter” (referring to an interpreter). Unfortunately, instead of clarifying this confusion for the benefit of clients, many in the industry have jumped on the band wagon joggling for position on search engines with this and similar keywords.

Read on, find out what the difference is between interpretation and translation.

What is Interpretation?
Not with standing semantics, interpreting and interpretation is the oral communication of ideas between parties using different languages. An interpreter facilitates the interpretation process.

Interpretation comes in to two flavours:

  • Consecutive interpretation
  • Simultaneous interpretation

(Language interpretation also includes sign-language interpretation.)

What is Translation?
Not with standing semantics, translating and translation is the written communication of ideas between parties using different languages. A translator facilitates the translation process.

Can I use an interpreter or translator for both Interpretation and Translation?
Yes, for casual interpretation and translation.

However, the skills required for interpretation are very different from those required for translation, and vice versa. Therefore, for professional jobs, you will be better off hiring an interpreter for interpretation, and a translator for translation.

Indeed, professional interpreters would be reluctant to do translation work just as professional translators would probably pass on an interpretation job.

When do you need interpretation?
You need interpretation for oral communication - dialogue - with parties that do not speak your language, typically for conferences, seminars, workshops, round tables, conventions, trade shows, business negotiations, presentations, training sessions, emergencies, travel assistance, private meetings, Skype interpreting, and telephonic interpreting.

About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK (Tokyo Japan), the owner of SAECULII Interpretation Agency, Japan (Tokyo). Visit SAECULII for the latest professional articles and news on English Japanese interpretation services

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