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May 1, 2024

2 min read

The Difference Between Translation and Interpretation

Translation and interpretation both help audiences understand a company’s message, but knowing their differences is crucial for a business’s success.

Why should you care?

With the expansion of eCommerce and a continuously growing global market, it’s more important than ever for companies to adapt their content and communication to the markets and languages they work in. Making your business marketable in markets outside of your company’s native language may require interpretation, translation and localization services. Before deciding what services best meet your company’s needs, it’s important to understand the differences between each service.

What is Interpretation?

Interpretation is the transposition of oral speech from a source language to a target language. The service occurs at the same time as the original delivery. Interpreters are responsible for explaining the original message in the target language, preserving the context, colloquialisms, idioms, and culturally-specific references in a way that the audience can understand. Interpreters do this without the aid of other resources like dictionaries, scripts or reference materials. Instead they rely on experience, their memory, and quick reflexes.

Interpretation can be delivered simultaneously, in unison with the original speech, or consecutively, immediately after the original speech. Both methods require interpreters to have excellent language proficiency in each language to quickly and carefully interpret meaning, as well as tone and intent of the original message. The last type of interpretation is Sight Interpretation, which is the oral rendition of a written text, transposing the text from the source language to a target language. All forms of interpretation can be delivered either live or virtually.

Interpretation is typically done with conferences or meetings, medical appointments, legal proceedings, and live TV programs.

What is translation?

Translation is the process of directly and accurately converting a source language into one or more target languages. The emphasis with translation is translating the words of an original document to their closest equivalent in another. A big difference between interpreters and translators is that unlike interpreters, translators often use computer-aided tools for their work.

Translators will apply a Translation Memory to the source text to automatically translate anything the tool has translated before and then translate the rest from scratch. Other aids like translation style guide templates help translators maintain consistency and quality in their translation of a document. After their review of the document, the original translator will pass the document onto another translator to proofread.

Though the tools translators use greatly increase their efficiency and effectiveness, the tools don’t completely remove the human element of translation. This is because translators must ensure that the original tone and message of the text are maintained in the target language after the translation is complete.

To go one step beyond translation and ensure your message will connect with your audience, localization is a service that takes into account the target audience’s cultural expectations. This can save you from offending cultures and breaking advertising and censorship laws. Localization helps your message most effectively reach your audience and makes it seem like the content was created specifically for each of your audiences.

When you need each

Your marketing materials, manuals, directions, or other written materials are important and to be successful in other markets, they may require professional translation. Through translation and localization, you ensure your message remains intact and is effective with each of your audiences.

For real-time conversion of a spoken or recorded message, interpretation will help you connect with all audiences. Professional interpreters rely on their language proficiency, memory, and experiences to maintain the context and message of your verbal presentations.

ORCA can help

Though these all seem quite similar, choosing the right service can help you maximize your multilingual budget and connection with your audience. Any questions? We’d love to chat! Reach out to today. Or check out our order portal above for an instant quote.

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