Difference between translation and interpretation

Difference Between Translation and Interpretation

In Blog by Rafael Morel1 Comment

Lighthouse offers translation services of written texts and oral speech. We hire linguists that are trained and ready to face the challenges of translations. We deliver high-quality content and assure professionalism in interpretations during business meetings.

What’s the Difference Between Translation and Interpretation?

It is important to identify the difference that exists between translating and interpreting because although they are two closely related linguistic disciplines, many misunderstand the terms. It should be understood that the same people rarely perform both translation and interpretation.

The main difference between interpreting and translation is merely the medium where in interpretation, the interpreter translates orally, while a translator interprets written text. The difference in skills, capacity, preparation, and even language comprehension is so significant that few people can do both successfully on a professional level.

We believe that both interpreting and translation forms are an essential part of today’s instant communication between a variety of languages. With the help of technology and professionals, it is a lot more accessible.

Similarities Between Translators and Interpreters

The two different disciplines of translating and interpreting require professionals to have a different set of skills. Both professions translate the information into the target language. However, interpreters do it orally for the target audience, while translators work with written texts.

Both translators and interpreters must have a profound cultural awareness of the target language and have an extensive active vocabulary to express any opinion clearly and logically. If linguists work in the medical or legal field, they must master the phraseology and terminology to avoid potential misunderstandings in the target language.

Differences of Interpretation and Translation Services

Time and Accuracy

Interpreters and translators have limited time to convey the information from the source language. Translators are not very time-pressured, so they can translate written text very accurately. In contrast, interpreters work in real-time video calls, conferences, or meetings. They translate from one language to another either simultaneously or consequently. Translators can use tools, while interpreters can only rely on themselves. A professional interpreter has to listen, comprehend, and interpret the information carefully. It can get challenging when translating technical terms, idioms, and other linguistic nuances quickly.

Since the translations are carried out on the spot, the interpreters’ accuracy is lower. However, translators have to maintain high-quality content.

Work Environment

Interpreters and translators work in different conditions. Professional translators mainly work with computers and translation tools that help them speed up the work, especially when working with technical documents.

Translators also work remotely from the comfort of home. It doesn’t mean their job is easier; the content of the written translations can be related to a specific industry that requires deep knowledge and even experience. Translators have to pay a lot of attention to perfect the grammar of the written content, masterfully convey the exact meaning maintaining the original attractiveness of the message, and skillfully translate the idiom into the target language.

Interpretation occurs among speakers of two different nationalities; thus, a professional interpreter must have outstanding proficiency in both source and target languages. Working with clients means understanding or improving knowledge about a certain industry. It is important to know technical terminology because it is easy for listeners to spot inaccuracy. Moreover, an interpreter needs to have excellent social skills and follow the company’s dress code.


Translation services can be arranged quickly and on the distance; however, an interpreter can require up to a few weeks of preparation to conduct a simultaneous or consequent interpretation.

At Lighthouse, you will meet qualified interpreters who can assist you at your next conference and a team of translators who can deliver high-quality translations. Contact us today and receive a free quote.

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