The Difference between an Interpreter and a Translator


Translator and interpreter are two words that go hand in hand. As a result, we see how lots of people face struggles while trying to understand the exact meaning communicated by these two words. That’s why we thought of sharing this article, which clearly explains the difference in between a translator and an interpreter.



Who is a translator?

A translator is a person who translates textual content from one language to another. In other words, the translator will have to go through the text written in the source language and render it into the target language. While doing that, the translator will need to preserve the meaning of the sentences as well.


While working as a translator, a translator needs to have excellent cultural and linguistic skills. On top of that, the translator should be in a position to write content in the target language. The skilled translators also have a clear ability to go through content written in the source language and understand it. Along with that, information related to the country and the culture where the text originated is kept in mind.


It is a habit of the translators to use an excellent library of reference and dictionaries. It provides much-needed support and assistance to them with getting a quality translation output at the end of the day. They will make sure that the source is correctly translated to the target language at all times as well.

A bilingual person will be able to work as a translator. However, the translator should have a strong understanding of how to write content in the target language. Due to the same reason, most of the bilingual people tend to translate content only to their native language.


While you are searching for a translator, you need to make sure that you find a person who is translating content into the native language. In addition to that, the expertise that the translator has on subject matter should be considered as well. Then it is possible to end up with securing the best possible outcome from the translations.


Who is an interpreter?

Interpreting is an oral translation method.  This provides real-time communication in between two different languages. An interpreter can work as a face to face interpreter. Or else, the interpreter can work in a conference setting and offer the services as well. You can call interpreting as oral translation, personal translation or real-time translation. While at work, the interpreter will repeat what is being said out in loud. However, the interpreter will be using a different language.


The interpreting process is quite similar to translating. This is the main reason why most of the people tend to get confused in between the two. However, you will be able to call interpreting as more of paraphrasing. That’s because the interpreter will listen to the speaker in the source language, understand the content that is said and then paraphrase it in the target language. He will use the understanding that he has about both languages at the time of interpreting. The interpreter will also have to change the words to highlight the meaning accordingly. Along with that, the meaning will be changed back into words, but in a different language.


In order to become an interpreter, a person should be equipped with on the spot translation capabilities. He will not have enough time to go ahead with the work. As a result, there is no possibility to use a dictionary to get the job done as well.


Differences between a translator and an interpreter


Following are the main differences that you can find in between a translator and an interpreter.



An interpreter will have to do the work on the spot. It can take place in-person, over the phone or via a video conference. On the other hand, translations are a time-consuming and a lengthy process. The translator will be provided with the chance to take time on his own and go ahead with the translation work. As a result, a translator will be able to refer to reference materials and even a dictionary to complete the translation process.



An interpreter will have to proceed with interpretation work in spoken language. He will also have to offer the work in real-time. However, the translations are text-based and they don’t take place in real-time.



To work as an interpreter, a person needs to be highly fluent with both languages. However, the level of accuracy can be somewhat low and it will never hurt the setting. In general, the interpreters are looking forward to securing perfection. However, it is quite challenging to achieve a high level of accuracy within a live setting.



Making idioms, analogies and metaphors resonate along with the target audience. Hence, this is a challenge that both the interpreters as well as interpreters will have to face. Apart from that, both the translators as well as interpreters will need to capture the tone, voice quality and inflexions. Then it is possible to convey all the verbal cues to the audience.



The interpreters should be fluent with the target language as well as the source language to proceed with their work and offer a quality service for the people in need. That’s because they don’t have the chance to go through reference materials while offering the service. They will have to interpret content in both directions. The professional translators will usually work only in one direction. They will focus on translating content into their native language.


Final words


Based on the factors highlighted in this article, you will be able to clear out all the confusions that you had about interpreters and translators. Have that understanding in your mind and get the services accordingly.


Also, read Translating Medical Notes is Very Challenging