Translation vs. Interpretation

Unique Challenges of Being an Interpreter

We are often asked about the difference between interpreters and translators. 

Although the difference may seem obvious to us, this is a fair question as both translators and interpreters specialize in delivering a message from one language to another. 

While working toward the same common goal, translators and interpreters work in different styles and adopt contrasting ways of problem-solving to get to the end product. The similarities? Both interpreters and translators work to achieve intercultural and multilingual communication and understanding. However, while translators work to reproduce written text, interpreters work with spoken languages, providing an oral version of the same information expressed by a speaker from one language to another. 

Interpreters can work to facilitate effective communication between two parties for many occasions, including conferences and meetings; criminal justice proceedings, immigration tribunals, and events within the education, health, and cultural sectors.  Interpretations can be performed in many ways, including in-person, by telephone, via video conferencing, or internet-based technologies. They are often executed live and simultaneously to the original content.

A Good Interpreter Is A Good Listener

No matter what occasion or industry they work within, interpreters should be equipped with a wide range of linguistic and interpersonal skills. Language, education, and experience lay a strong foundation for interpreters, but the ability to be an empathetic listener is just as critical.

The Unique Challenges Faced By Interpreters

The job of the interpreter is always evolving and never boring, with no one job the same. Good interpreters don’t see them as challenges, rather problems waiting to be solved, there are many obstacles they face while performing their duties.

Know Your Local Culture

Interpretation does not simply involve replacing one word from the source language with the literally translated word in another language. A good interpretation reflects intentions, word choices, style, and nuances. Interpreters must be well versed in all the variations of the source language in order to reproduce the content in the best way. 

A great interpreter will know that speakers will often use local idioms, slang, and jargon when they speak, and these will vary not just language to language, but also region to region. Interpreters must work to untangle metaphors, analogies, humor or sarcasm – which is no joke, and depending on the circumstances, could have lasting repercussions if wrongly interpreted.

On top of this, interpreters must capture the tone, inflections, voice quality, and other unique elements of the spoken word and then convey these verbal cues to the audience.

What Was That You Said?

A good interpreter requires amazing communication skills, both listening and speaking. 

Not only must they have an exhaustive grasp of the language they interpret for, but they must also be able to hear the source fully, and to be able to speak clearly and concisely. This can be challenging in busy or noisy environments.

Preparation is Key – But Not Always an Option

A good interpreter will always prepare prior to performing their duties, however, as many interpreters perform live, be it on live TV, during a court case, or in a meeting, one can not prepare for the unpredictability that comes hand in hand with interpreting on the spot! 

Interpreters must be able to think on their feet and stay cool under pressure. The work is often given on short notice, is of high importance, and can be stressful. All interpreters aim for perfection, but it’s challenging to achieve in a live setting. While time is on the translators’ side when reviewing and editing written text for accuracy, interpreters are racing against the clock to provide the best interpretation possible.

Interpreters must be fluent in both the source and target language, as they’re required to translate in both directions instantaneously without the aid of reference materials. They also need to be confident in the subject matter, as they are often required to have specialized knowledge. Although someone might be an amazing interpreter, they wouldn’t get far interpreting at a hospital if they had no experience with medical vocabulary and lingo.

When looking for interpreting services, always make sure that you work with an interpretation company that has well-rounded interpreters with years of experience behind them. While at times interpreting can present its challenges, when working with experienced and passionate professionals, you can be assured that your project will be interpreted to the highest standard. 

We work with a team of interpreters from across the globe, who are all natives in their respective target language, completely bilingual in their language pair, and capable of delivering high-quality translations as well as other language services to suit your requirements.Want to start your interpreter project today? Contact us to get started.