As a language solutions provider, we know clear communication is the first step to understanding. We also know some of the terminology in our industry can be confusing to someone who’s not familiar with it. That’s why we wanted to take a moment to explain the difference between language translation and interpretation, as well as address some other common questions.
What is Language Translation?
Language translation is the process of converting the written word from one language into another in a way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate so it can be understood by its intended audience.
What is Language Interpretation?
While language translation refers only to the written word, interpreting refers to spoken word. An interpreter’s job is to communicate between two people who speak different languages, whether the conversation takes place over the phone, in person, or via video remote interpreting.
What skills are required for each?
Language translators and interpreters share many of the same skills. Both must be proficient in at least two languages and have a good understanding of the culture for the intended audience, whether they will be reading the words or listening to them. Both typically need expertise of the industry in which they are working and the procedures, standards, and terminology associated with it. For instance, many interpreters and translators have additional training in the medical, legal, or business fields to enable them to be proficient at their jobs.
Interpreters also need some specific skills, such as:
- Exceptional listening skills and memory recall so they will be able to remember words and convert them from one language to another in real time
- The ability to take good notes
- Excellent communication and customer service skills
- Excellent comprehension of syntax in addition to grammar
Specific skills for translators include:
- Ability to research words and concepts
- Excellent composition and grammar skills in both languages
What is the difference between a bilingual person and a professional interpreter or translator?
A bilingual person is someone who is proficient in at least two languages. Merely being bilingual does not qualify someone as a professional interpreter or translator, however. Interpreters and translators need additional skills, including those mentioned above, to be effective. Being a professional also means their skills have been tested with language proficiency tests, as well as industry-specific testing.
Tips for Choosing Quality Translation and Interpretation Solutions
As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, having language solutions available to meet the needs of your audience is no longer optional. In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s also required by law for many healthcare and government organizations. With thousands of translation and interpretation solutions to choose from, how can you be sure you’re selecting the right one?
Start by looking at how a potential provider hires and trains its translators and interpreters. It’s also important to ask about their procedures for ensuring quality and protecting your information, as well as their technical capabilities and how they respond to requests for support. To learn more about what factors to consider and what questions to ask, check out this guide to selecting a language solutions provider.