What is the key difference between a translator and an interpreter?
The role of a translator is to transfer a written text from a source language to a target language. The role of the interpreter is to transfer oral speech from a source language to a target language.
Therefore both professionals transfer language but, just as a great writer is not necessarily an effective public speaker, a translator is not inherently a good interpreter or vice versa.
Each role requires a different set of skills. A translator needs some excellent skills: reading, writing, analytical, IT.
An interpreter also needs some excellent skills: listening, speaking, memory, note- taking, interpersonal skills. Of course, there are certain skills which overlap: proficient or native-like knowledge of their foreign and source languages and culture.
Specialist knowledge of one or more areas of expertise. These skill sets are not inborn; they must be taught and assimilated.
The memory of an interpreter is an amazing thing, but the best interpreters don’t develop it overnight.
Thousands of hours of study and rehearsal go into making that memory the wonder that it is. Language and culture are inextricable, so it’s extremely important that any interpreter be well-versed in the culture of both interpreted languages.
A translator must be an excellent writer with extensive knowledge of grammar and different writing styles.
Keep in mind that your translated text will be read by native speakers with a lot of experience, so if you can’t reach that level of knowledge, you might cause trouble to your clients.
Most translators translate into their native language, so they need to be able to write and know all of its grammatical, semantic, lexical and structural rules and singularities.