Translators vs Interpreters – What’s The Difference?

When it comes to the field of linguistics, there’s a common discrepancy that many are unaware of. One of which is the difference between an interpreter and a translator. But it’s important for you to know the difference because when you’re looking to move your business or brand into the international markets, your switch from the source culture to the target culture will depend on the skill and quality of a translator. Are you sure you’re not mistaking one for the other?

What’s The Difference?

The truth is that the 2 linguistic disciplines are closely related, however, those capable of completing each job are usually different people.

The truth is that the 2 linguistic disciplines are closely related, however, those capable of completing each job are usually different people. There’s a vast difference in training, skill, aptitude and general language knowledge. What this means is that very few people can actually do both jobs—interpreting and translating—on any professional level.


The differences in skill levels are admittedly greater than the similarities between translators and interpreters. A translator’s key skill is a thorough knowledge of the source knowledge as well as the country’s culture, and being able to render a clear and accurate translation of the project into the target language.

What does this mean? Cultural and linguistic skills are incredibly critical, however, the most important mark of a high-quality professional translator is his or her ability to communicate well in the target language.


The art of paraphrase. This is, essentially, the root of interpreting. An interpreter listens to what’s being spoken in one language (not necessarily the source language), and then paraphrases what’s been said based on his or her understanding of it using stipulations and tools set in place by the target language.

That’s not to say that interpreters are ineffective or poorly trained—on the contrary, interpreters, just like translators, would not be able to do what they do without a precise and dedicated mastery of two or more languages.


So, now that you understand the differences between the two, be sure to consider all the variables listed when you’re looking to hire a translator to key your project to an international target culture. There are distinctive features of both professions, that dictate what jobs they can and cannot perform. ITC Global Translations can provide you with excellent translators for your project. Contact us today, make the choice a simple one.

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