Difference Between Translator And Interpreter



Before we start differentiating between translator and interpreter, it is first important to understand their roles. Both of their duties are somewhat similar yet too different from each other. So, let’s understand their roles and then move on to the differentiation and similarities.

Difference Between Translator And Interpreter

Translator- A translator is the one who provides translation of documents from one language to another. That is to say, a translator converts a text from a language to another.

Interpreter- An interpreter is someone who interprets a file; audio or video and verbally translates it in some other language. It is similar to translation but an interpreter listens to the source file and translates it into the target language verbally and accurately.

So, once we understand what a translator and an interpreter does, it’ll be easier to differentiate between the two.


It can’t be argued that both interpreters and translators are agents to remove the language barrier however both are very different from each other. Same as translation is different from transcription, both of them are different from interpretation as well. To clarify, translators are fundamentally different from interpreters and these are the following points of difference between translator and interpreter:

  • The main difference is that translators provide a written conversion of documents from one language to another while interpreters deal with speech.
  • Translation take some time like a day or two however interpretation is done on the spot.
  • While translators work with tools for translation, such as dictionaries, texts or CAT tools, interpreters are working in real time (live) without sources or aids.
  • Moreover, translation requires higher level of accuracy as compared to interpretation. In interpretation, it is more important to convey the source message without any misunderstanding.
  • Translators may have to be proficient in their target language. However the interpreters have to be fluent in both source and target language as its an instant process.
  • Translators don’t have to be physically present or do live translations whereas interpreters have to provide live services.
  • The translators need certification from some professional translation association like ATA, DLPT etc. An interpreter may need certification from associations like CCHI, AIIC etc.
  • A translator can provide normal, certified or notarized translations. An interpreter can either offer simultaneous or consecutive interpretation.

So, with these points one may differ between translator and interpreter. Further, a professional translator, for instance, may not necessarily have the interpersonal skills to be a fast, excellent interpreter. Also a skilled interpreter will by no means have the attention to linguistic style needed to render a compelling literary translation.

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So, since translation v/s interpretation is clear , we will now state the points of similarities between the translator and interpreter. In order to succeed globally and expand your business, you must communicate with international audiences. Therefore, making your content resonate in a market’s native language may involve interpretation services, translation and even transcription services, or in some cases all. The following explains how an interpreter is similar to a translator:

  • Both the translator and interpreter has to work with 2 languages; a source and a target language.
  • All translators and interpreters require certification and qualifications from professional associations
  • Both the professions work with their native language
  • Translation and interpretation, both have the motive of conveying the message from the source language into the target language accurately.
  • Moreover, both translators and interpreters are linguists

Since, there are thousands of difficult languages to learn, one may prefer taking help from online translation or interpretation agency like Global Translation Help. However, be it translation, transcription or interpretation the main focus would be accurate conversion into the target language verbal or written.

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