Understanding the difference between translation and interpreting

Effective translation and interpreting are both vital assets to global businesses looking to seek growth in rapidly expanding economies, such as Brazil, China and India. However, there are many distinct differences between these two disciplines and it’s important to establish the right service for your needs when embarking on a multilingual project.

 

Put most simply, translation deals with the written word, while interpreting deals with the spoken word. Translators and interpreters are not interchangeable, and the two disciplines are very different. Each is a profession in its own right and specialists hold different skills, expertise and specializations.

 

Another myth is that anyone who speaks two languages can translate written material from one to the other, or can interpret spoken language from one to the other. Being fluent in a language and having the capacity to translate or interpret into or from that language are very different things.  An English speaker is not necessarily a good writer or a good communicator; a bilingual person is not necessarily trained/qualified to interpret or translation. Good translators and interpreters usually translate into their native language and have gone through rigorous training, education and qualification processes for that purpose.

 

Translator vs. interpreter – which specialist skills do you need?

 

Translation and interpreting are very different but share one common theme. Both aim to communicate the message and the tone of the original content into a different language. Translation is usually required for a written leaflet, instruction manual, a website or even a business email correspondence, while an interpreter is usually required in a hospital for patient explanation, training course, a speech or a meeting.

 

What makes a good translation?

 

High quality translations read like an original document, rather than as a translation of an original document. For example, a legal document that has been translated well will hold as much ‘authenticity’ in the legal world as the original. High quality translation ensures that along with the meaning of the source document, its tone and register are also communicated to the new readership. Expertise in the nuances of both the source and target languages is essential, allowing the translator to use grammar and style tools to accurately convey messages to international readers.

 

What makes a good interpreting?

 

Interpreting is a more customer-facing, quick-thinking profession, which does not allow for consultation or research and demands a high level of initiative and diplomacy.

 

Whether interpreting in a meeting between international partners, interpreting for a speaker at a conference or working in a training situation, an interpreter takes on the voice of the speaker. He is required to convey the speaker’s messages with the same level of intensity while commanding the same authority. He will never add his own opinion or views and will use his own intuition to respond rapidly to challenging situations.

 

Lastly, some tips on getting the most from translating and interpreting services.

 

When dealing with a translation provider:

 

  • Make sure the source language used in your documents is complete
  • Ensure you seek out a language service provider (LSP) who hasqualified native speakers of the target language
  • Ask for references, number of years of experience and subject matter expertise if deemed necessary

 

When dealing with interpreters:

 

  • Brief your interpreter as far ahead of a job as possible
  • Make sure everyone involved in an event or meeting knows of the interpreter’s involvement
  • Ask for client referrals and/or testimonials

 

For both translation and interpreting, check to see if the potential service providerhasthe required quality accreditation, such as ISO and EN quality standards and membership of professionals associations.

 

Merrill Brink provides high-quality, comprehensive, professional language translation services.  We are certified to ISO 9001:2008, ISO 27001:2005, ISO 13485:2003; and registered to EN 15038:2006 as well as to ISO 14971:2007. Together, these standards provide assurance that the most stringent process and quality standards for translation are followed. We maintain a network of 6,500+ professional linguists and translators to ensure that we have the breadth of experience you require.

 

About Merrill Brink International

Merrill Brink International (www.merrillbrink.com) is a leading provider of complete translation and language solutions for global companies and law firms, with special expertise in serving the legal, financial, life sciences, software, heavy machinery and corporate markets. A proven leader with more than 30 years of experience, Merrill Brink offers a wide range of language solutions including translation, localization, desktop publishing and globalization services.

Merrill Brink is recognized in the industry for its commitment to quality and its pioneering approach of leveraging technology to reduce costs, eliminate redundant processes and accelerate translation life cycles. Merrill Brink is certified to ISO 9001:2008; ISO 27001:2005 and ISO 13485:2003, and registered to EN 15038:2006 and ISO 14971:2007. Together, these standards provide assurance that the most stringent process and quality standards for translation are followed. Merrill Brink International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merrill Corporation.

For more information, please contact Merrill Brink at translations@merrillbrink.com or in the U.S., call 800-688-4400 or in Europe, call 353-(0)91-393000; Web: http://www.merrillbrink.com

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