Home Lifestyle Translation vs Interpretation: What Are the Differences?

Translation vs Interpretation: What Are the Differences?


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts translators and interpreters in the same category for analysis. This could be one of the reasons why many people get mixed up when it comes to translation vs interpretation. However, it can be crucial to know the difference between the two services.

In this short guide, we’ll touch upon some of the main differences between translation and interpretation. By learning these differences, you may be in a better position to figure out what type of service you need.

So let’s now take a look at the differences. But first, let’s run through a basic definition of translation and interpretation.

What Is Translation?

The translation is all about deciphering the exact words from one language to another. Since different languages don’t always have the same concepts or words even, translations can sometimes come across as confusing.

However, a translator may need to make subtle adjustments where necessary to make the translated text accurate enough, but understandable for the reader. This is quite an art form when it comes to high-level translations.

What Is Interpretation?

Interpretation is when you decipher another language into another. An interpreter focuses on trying to gauge relevant meanings that work and apply to the language of the listener.

There is more emphasis on what the other language means with interpretation, rather than gaining an exact impression of the words from another language from the listener. Now let’s take a look at some key differences between the two services:

The Format

Often, interpretation is something that’s needed for understanding another language in real-time. For example, at the World Economic Forum, some interpreters listen to speeches in one language and then interpret them in real-time into another language which they speak out to listeners at an event. In essence, an interpreter paraphrases a language to get the message across easily.

You tend to see the translation of languages more in written form, rather than being spoken out in real-time. Translation services will look to get the most accurate and direct translation possible, with an effort to try and avoid paraphrasing where possible. This sort of work is key for industries such as publishing, legal, and in general things like websites.

A great example of where you find excellent translation services for such industries is at www.translatemedia.com. Here you may find translation tips and a translation guide for professional Swiss to German translation services.


Interpretations of a language do not need to be 100% accurate. Instead, they should reflect the meaning of the original language into the listener’s language.

For instance, the idiom “to kill two birds with one stone” may not be said in the same way in the original language. A good interpreter will understand that when it is said one way in the original language, they will need to change it into a context that the listener will understand.

When it comes to translation, accuracy is more important. A translator will always try to put across the original context where possible. But, they may have to make some tough judgments as to whether readers will understand the original context, and if not, what is the closest possible contextual replacement.

Translation vs Interpretation Explained

You should now have a better grasp when it comes to translation vs interpretation. Each service has its preferred applications, but they can sometimes cross over.

If you enjoyed reading this article, check out the rest of our website for more informative content.

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