[Infographic] The Differences between Translators and Interpreters

[Infographic] The Differences between Translators and Interpreters

What are the differences between Translators and Interpreters? Sounds like an easy question. But if you ask 10 random people about the differences between these two terms, I bet 6 or 7 of them would say there aren’t any differences. To many people, Translators and Interpreters are both used to call people who translate words from a language to another. Actually, this perception is not totally wrong. Translators and Interpreters both indeed work on translating languages, but the nature of their jobs are quite different from each other.

We have created an infographic to give you a clear understanding of the differences between Translators and Interpreters.

The differences between Translators vs Interpreters

1. The skills required

Essential skills a translator needs:

      • Good working skills: Since translators work with written documents, translators should be great at writing.
      • Attention to details: As producing error-free documents is the aim of translations, it’s no doubt translators must pay attention to details like spelling errors or grammar mistakes.
      • Sound research skills: Researching and reading reference materials are essential steps for translators to understand what they are working on and choose the best word choices for your translations.
      • Excel in computing skills and/or CAT Tools: Word, Excel, Powerpoint and in many cases, CAT Tools are indispensable for translators.


Important skills for an interpreter:

      • Excellent listening and public speaking skills.
      • Quick decision-making skills: Unexpected situations can happen any minutes so interpreters should prepare themselves for the unexpected and make quick decision to solve the problems.
      • Deep self-knowledge and skills: Since they don’t have time to look up dictionaries or search for information online, they should improve their self-knowledge and skills.


2. Accuracy level

Translators are expected to produce “perfect” and error-free documents. Words should be chosen carefully to convey exactly what the source documents say.

Meanwhile, interpreters do not have to translate exactly every word. They can skip some words or paraphrase the sentences as long as the core meaning is not changed.


3. Ways of translation

Interpreters have to translate two-way, from a source language to a target language and vice versa. For example, in a conference between some Vietnamese businessmen and Korean partners, an interpreter will translate what the Vietnamese people said to the Korean partners. Then he/she translates the feedback of the Korean partners back to Vietnamese so that the Vietnamese businessmen can understand.

Translators mostly translate a document from a source language to a target language of which they are native speakers.