Difference between Translation and Interpretation

Difference between Translation and Interpretation

Translation is written.

It involves taking a written text in a source language (original language) and providing a written text into the target language (desired language). Translators must have excellent knowledge of at least two languages but they often work in only one direction, from their acquired language into their native language.

Some of the skills and abilities translators are required to possess are:

Sound knowledge of source language equivalent to at least 4 years of intensive and 10 years of sporadic study.

Above-average writing ability in the target language equivalent to that of educated native speakers.

Reasonable familiarity with the subject matter, equivalent to that which can be acquired by at least one year (preferably two) of formal education or job experience in the particular field.

Translators are expected to perfect their work product through cross referencing and researching methodically over a projects timeline. They can utilize a variety of dictionaries, research while they are working, contemplate the best formulation of a concept and modify the draft many times before settling on a finished product. Translators may use computer software, translation memory programs or other term management tools to assist their efforts.

Interpretation is oral.

It is the unrehearsed transmitting of a spoken or signed message from one language to another. It involves listening to something spoken in a source language and providing an oral or signed equivalent into the target language. Interpreters must have excellent knowledge of two languages and usually must be able to work in both directions. Court, medical and community interpreters work in both directions; some conference interpreters work only in one direction.

The skills and abilities required of an interpreter are different from a translator. The knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the task of interpreting include:

Language skills

Speaking skills

Listening comprehension skills

Interpreting skills

Behavioral skills

Each area involves a number of the following cognitive abilities: alternating attention, auditory processing speed, conceptual reasoning, divided attention, fine motor control and speed, visual perception, scanning and tracking, and working memory.

Translation vs. Interpreting: The Contrast

To get a sense of the different work product involved with translating and interpreting, the professional translator typically produces about 5 words per minute or 300 written words per hour. The simultaneous interpreter, in contrast, has to respond instantly to the incoming spoken text, typically at a rate some 30 times faster than the translator, i.e. 150 words per minute or 9000 spoken words per hour.

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