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The Difference Between Translators and Interpreters: Which Do I Need?

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The Difference Between Translators and Interpreters: Which Do I Need?

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As a trusted translation company in Surrey, the team at Surrey Translation Bureau have noticed a lot of people getting rather mixed up when it comes to translators and interpreters; many simply do not know the difference between the two, and will often end up using the terms interchangeably (much to the chagrin of translators and interpreters alike!).

So we thought we’d take the time to quickly explain what each entails – which should hopefully make things easier next time you need linguistic assistance!

Translation and Interpretation are closely linked linguistic disciplines, but each requires a distinct skill set and offers a particular service to those who need it. To put it most simply, the biggest difference between the two is that of their medium: translators work with the written word, and interpreters with the spoken word (including sign language).

Of course, things do go deeper than that. Due to this main difference, you’ll see translators and interpreters hone different sets of skills and approach their work using specific methods.

Translators are not concerned with exact “word for word” translations of texts, due to the nonsensical results of attempts that aim for such things, and instead take the time to try and make the translated message as accurate to the original texts as possible, whilst still remaining understandable, as well as pleasant and easy to read. Translators usually have a more extended period of time to work their magic, meaning that certain turns of phrase can be debated upon and other texts and sources (including style guides, glossaries, and thesauruses) can be consulted to help shape the final translation.

Interpreters, on the other hand, do not have the luxury of time and are in the position of having to translate in real time situations, such as during speeches, appointments, legal situations, and more. Interpreters need to be able to immediately translate what is being said in order to relay the gist of the message to the involved parties, in a way that is clear and understandable. Sometimes interpreters are not present face-to-face, but rather translate over the phone, making listening skills, clarity of voice and public speaking skills even more important for them.

Translators and interpreters alike have specialities and areas of expertise, which you should always check before hiring either – for example, you would want to hire a translator with legal experience to work with legal documents, or an interpreter with business expertise to assist with board meetings.

If you have realised that you don’t need an interpreter, but instead require the services of a translation company in Surrey who you can trust, Surrey Translation Bureau is here to help! Our team has experience in a broad range of languages, and you’ll be able to count on us whether you require search engine optimisation for Chinese audiences, something transcribed from Finnish, or something else entirely! Contact us today for more information.

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