People choose different career paths when they are in college. If you too are in that time of your life, and you decide you want to become an interpreter, there are a few things you need to consider before starting down that path. The important thing you must understand is the difference between translating and interpreting so you can select the one that suits you.
An interpreter is a person who provides a verbal translation of one language to a second language. This can be done at a meeting, or conference where the speaker uses one language and the interpreter speaks in the second language to a person or group of people. Sometimes an interpreter can also work over the phone on a conference call where one party speaks in one language, and the interpreter will deliver the message to the other party in a second language.
A translator’s job is to translate documents like books, certificates, manual or even sometimes websites to a second language. This is done in written form and not verbally.
Becoming an interpreter or translator are both very challenging jobs. An interpreter must be able to process the languages fast as they need to listen to the language spoken by the first person and communicate it to the others (a single person or group) very fast. An interpreter’s job requires quick thinking and the ability to interact with other people or groups. In fact, an interpreter must not only understand the languages been spoken but must be comfortable with different accents of the same language too.
A translator, on the other hand, does not have as many challenges as an interpreter because they do not have to deal with people or accents. Even though writing styles may differ from culture to culture, the pronunciation on paper or a computer screen will be the same. There is no vocal process involved. A translator has the luxury of time on their side and does not have to do the translation in real time. Being a translator will give one the chance to read the entire document and understand its context before beginning the work.
An interpreter, however, does not need to worry about punctuations or grammar too much. As they work in real time and are interpreting what, the speaker says. Therefore, their work is not put in writing.
In effect a translator has a few advantages over an interpreter and if you are considering a career in this area, you must decide on which path you want to take.