Language Service Providers (LSPs) offer a wide variety of services, with interpretation and translation being two of the most frequently requested services. While interpretation and translation do share similarities, they are two very different language services and they’re each used in different situations.

What are interpretation and translation?

Interpretation is informally defined as “the facilitation of spoken or signed language communication between users of different languages.” Interpretation uses a qualified and certified interpreter to transform verbal or signed language (the source language) into a different verbal or signed language (the target language). There are several major types of interpreting:

  • Simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter keeps pace with what is said in the conversation and interprets into the target language as they are listening to the conversation. The goal of simultaneous interpreting is to convey exactly what is being said by the speaker/signer.
  • Consecutive interpreting. The speaker/signer stops every few minutes, generally at the end of a paragraph, and allows the interpreter to provide what was signed or spoken in the target language.
  • Over-the-phone interpretation (OPI). This form of interpretation can be done in either a simultaneous format or a consecutive format. The main difference between OPI and other forms of interpretation is that this form of interpretation is done via phone. You can schedule an OPI interpreter if you’re aware of when you will need one, or you can use on-demand OPI interpreters if you need immediate interpreting services.
  • Video interpretation. This form of interpretation can also be done in either a simultaneous format or a consecutive format. Similarly to OPI interpretation, this isn’t done in person. Video interpretation is completed using a video call software that allows for the interpreter and others involved to be seen through video. This is ideal if you need an interpreter for a signed language but have no in-person interpreters available.

Translation is defined as “communication of meaning from one language (the source) to another language (the target). Translation refers to written information.” Translation is less about ensuring the exact words are translated, and more about ensuring the original tone and intent of the original document are effectively translated into the target language. Translation is only used in written circumstances.

Do you need interpretation and translation?

Whether you need interpretation, translation, or both is dependent on your organization’s language access goals. If you’re working with a language that doesn’t have a written equivalent, like sign language or certain Indigenous languages, you’ll need to work with an interpreter rather than a translator.

Interpretation and translation are both highly regulated for different industries as well, which affects what language service your organization needs. If you’re in the healthcare field, for example, you’ll need both interpreters and translators at your disposal. Elections also require similar accessibility to both interpreters and translators.

We can help you get started on your translation or interpretation journey. Give us a call at 530-750-2040, or request a free quote today.