Difference Between Translation and Interpretation

If you want your business to succeed globally, you would have to communicate with audiences worldwide. To connect with an international demographic, you would have to present your business and company in the most favourable light. It can only be done if the content you are putting out is relatable for the people consuming it. To make your marketing, branding, and promotional content palatable for a global audience, you would have to rely on reliable translation and interpretation services such as Translation Planet. But how can you know which services you should be using? Read on to find out.

Even though the linguistic practice of interpretation and translation are closely interlinked, there are differences in terms of the capabilities, know-how, skills, and training required by practitioners of these two disciplines. The difference is so vast that there are rarely any professionals who perform both.

Difference of Medium

Fundamentally, the distinction between interpretation and translation is in terms of the medium. An interpreter orally translates what is being said in real-time, whereas a translator works on interpreting the written words. However, both require deep expertise and command of the language.

Difference of time

Interpreters have to translate almost instantaneously; therefore, the process is quite fast, and there is not much time. But translators do their work after the written text has already been produced and thus, they have time to prepare and hone the tone of the written translation. Translators can use numerous resources to make sure that translation is consistent with the original text.

Difference of accuracy

Translators are expected to deliver a greater level of accuracy than interpreters and for a good reason. The way we speak is often different from the way we write. While speaking, we may not necessarily have to follow a grammatical syntax to make sense, but that changes in written sentences. It is because for the written sentence to be coherent, the sentences must be grammatically correct.

If an interpreter translates an idiom or phrase from one language to another in real-time, slight inaccuracies can be let go. But the same generosity cannot be extended to translators, as they have sufficient time to weed out inaccuracies and make the final draft as error-free and enriched in meaning as possible. Hence, translations tend to be more accurate than interpretations.

Difference of research

Having expansive diction comes in handy for interpreters. Given how they have to translate in a concise timeframe, they must have as vast a vocabulary as possible. But the kind of preparation that a translator does is quite different.

Instead of memorizing the dictionary, translators note the variations in dialect or determine the cultural relevance of specific symbols in the text. The research has more to do with the traditions, lingo, and culture of the country that is being targeted.


Even though interpretation and translation are two quite different practices, it is understandable why many people often end up confusing one with the other. Both disciplines require the practitioner to become a true admirer of the languages they are working on. It is not easy to attain the talent and expertise in these disciplines without putting in much time and effort. And one cannot put that much time and effort into something they are not in love with.