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Friday, October 8, 2021

How Is Translation Different From Interpretation?

Recent technological advancements have given business owners the opportunity to expand their business beyond the borders of their own homes and cities into other countries and new, international markets. Such expansion has provided a massive market for all kinds of businesses and has been an absolute boon. However, to actually succeed globally, your business must be able to communicate effectively with a truly international audience. To make your communication relatable and relevant to these new audiences, your business needs to generate content in the market’s native language so that it resonates with new consumers.

Translation and interpretation are two of the most popular tools that help many businesses thrive in new international markets. These are the sole weapons of creating content in native languages. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences among translation and interpretation that make them effective in different ways. Interpretation is used when there is a need to translate spoken languages orally whereas, translators work with written content. Both of these services need expert knowledge of linguistic trends, cultural background, and context to name but a few. 

Let’s explore the differences between the closely related linguistic terms of translation and interpretation. As a result, you’ll come closer to learning which service can potentially be most beneficial for your business. 


Perhaps the biggest difference between interpreters and translators is found in the technology tools that professional translators utilize to help them with their work. Written content in need of translation services is typically converted into a file that is more workable, then a translation memory tool is applied so that the software automatically translates what’s been translated previously. Afterward, the translator fills in the gaps by referencing glossaries for accuracy. The translation is mostly done for websites, video subtitles, software, and multimedia. 


Interpretation is more complex than translation as it happens at the moment. An interpreter is expected to simultaneously listen to, decode and translate words while being careful not to change their original meaning. They also must be careful not to change or rephrase certain idioms and specific cultural references for example. By simplifying and translating the meaning of the original content, interpreters ensure that the content communicates with the target audience. The only tools that interpreters have are their memory, practice, and skill level. Interpretation is incorporated into a lot of projects like live shows, concerts, and legal proceedings. 

Key Differences


The modes of communication for both of these linguistic tools are vastly different. Interpretation is done verbally while translation plays a major role in translating written documents. 

Delivery Time:

Interpretation is delivered immediately on the spot whereas translation takes time. For a translator, this gives them enough time to take advantage of the many techs and reference tools at their disposal to help to generate authentic, accurate, and high-quality translations. 


Interpretation can do with lesser accuracy than translation; even though interpreters strive to achieve perfection. However, maintaining perfection and accuracy becomes a bit more challenging when the translation is happening in a live setting. This is acceptable to some extent. The translation leaves an ample amount of time for the translator and thus absolute accuracy is expected in this service. 


Effective interpretation needs to maintain bi-directional fluency. The interpreter needs to be fluent in both the source and target language because it’s done live and provides no help to the interpreter in the form of technological tools and reference material. With translation work, on the other hand, the time constraint is not exactly there which allows ample time for research and reference. So, being fluent in one language is enough for the work making it uni-directional. 

Additional Details:

In addition to all the above key features, both interpreters and translators face specific challenges associated with literary tools like idioms, metaphors, analogies, etc. However, when comparing both, interpretation needs more skills than translation. An ideal interpreter must be able to adjust to the unique elements of spoken words like tone, inflection, and voice qualities for effective communication with the audience. 


Knowing the key differences between interpretation and translation along with their definitions makes one understand the working processes of both. Both translation services and interpretation services are often provided by the same translation company, similar to the language services provided by Geneva Worldwide. Being very different and providing more support to their clients, Geneva Worldwide believes in the delicate art of translation, transcription, and interpretation.

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Daniyel Carlson
Daniyel Carlson is a Young Researcher in the field of Data Science & Analytics having research experience of more than 8 years. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering and currently serves as an Editorial Assistant in IGI Global, United States of America. Daniyel also holds honorary positions in the Associate Member of Institute of Research Engineers and Doctors, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology, International Association of Engineers, Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communications.

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