Interpreting vs Translating

August 2, 2016

Many people use the words #interpreting and #translating interchangeably, though in truth they mean very different things.


Interpreting is when one is an intermediate between spoken and/or signed languages on the spot. You might see someone in a court room, #concert, classroom, or hospital who is actively going back and forth between two languages (for example, telling the doctor the patient’s response in English and then explaining the doctor’s diagnosis in French to the patient if French is the patient’s first language).


Translating is restricted to #writing, #reading a text in one #language and then rewriting it in another. You might see this with books, written directions, signs, or legal documents. Both require a high level of fluency between two or more languages and are very demanding, though the nature of their tasks differs greatly. However, it is not unheard of for one person to be both a translator and interpreter (for the same languages or different languages).


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