What’s the difference between translation and interpreting?
A lot, actually.
To start, translation and interpreting both have to do with language. However, each uses a different medium. Translation deals with the written word, while interpreting deals with the spoken.
Translators translate written materials from one language to another. They work in as many fields as there are clients.
Interpreters interpret what a speaker says. They can work in simultaneous or consecutive modes. Simultaneous interpreters interpret while the speaker is speaking. Consecutive interpreters interpret a statement once the speaker pauses.
The skillset of a professional translator
The differences in skills are greater than their similarities. Translators must understand the source language and culture of the country their text is from. Then, using a good library of reference materials, the translator renders the text accurately and clearly into the target language. Linguistic and cultural skills are important, but the best skill a good translator can possess is to know how to write extremely well.
An excellent translator is rare. Even bilingual people can rarely express themselves on a given subject equally well in two languages. Knowing this limitation, a good translator will only work into his or her native language. Here are Metropolitan Translations, we require our translators to translate into their native language and be experts in the source subjects.
The skillset of a professional interpreter
An interpreter must be able to translate in both directions on the spot without supplemental reference materials. Sometimes an interpreter is provided with a glossary or reference materials beforehand, but not always. Interpreters must be excellent listeners. They have to process and memorize words that the source-language speaker is saying, while simultaneously outputting them in the target language. Great interpreters are excellent public speakers and can instantly transform colloquialisms and idioms into analogous statements that the audience will understand.