Interpretation vs. Translation: Which Is Right for Your Business?

December 29, 2020

The major debate around the world at the moment is all about globalization. Thanks to the advancement of technologies such as the internet, the business world has revolutionized greatly over the past few years. Globalization has had several advantages to businesses and consumers around the world, including the following:

  • A broader spread of technology and innovation
  • Easy accessibility to new markets
  • Lower costs of doing business
  • It’s easier to acquire new talent
  • The job market has widely expanded

translation document

While all these advantages might interest you, you need to keep in mind the challenges that come with the aspirations of globalization.

It would be much easier if the whole world was speaking a common language. In addition to cultural diversities, however, there are over 6500 languages around the world, some more widely spoken compared to others. This automatically creates a barrier to the so desired globalization, and it affects the world of business. If you made the right guess, this is where translation and interpretation come in to navigate the language barrier and make business more efficient. However, entrepreneurs have to know which between the two serves their business’ needs best. In this piece, we will take a brief look at the two so you can figure out which of the two is right for your business.


The Difference between Translators and Interpreters

While translation and interpretation are very similar, they are also very different. Both of them involve working with different languages to ensure that the target audience receives the intended message in a language they can understand. In short, translators convert written material from one language to another. As discovered at, you can get your text translated into over 150 different languages online. Professional translation can help you reach a wider audience while improving your communication as an entrepreneur. It can be an effective way to boost your marketing campaign, especially when expanding or getting deals in foreign territories.

On the other hand, interpreters do the same task but orally. You might say that interpreters do translations, but you can’t say that translators are interpreters. Most of the translators will specialize in a certain field and pick several languages and focus on them. For example, you will find a translator who is skilled in interpreting legal subjects while another has specialized in medical reports.



This is essentially something that happens at the moment when a person is talking, or the original speech is being delivered. The interpreted version is also being played simultaneously. Interpretation does not require referencing or using written scripts. The whole process is done verbally or visually in the case of sign language interpretation. While the interpreter has to deliver the said speech with as much originality as they can, they are allowed to rephrase culturally specific idioms or other references in the best way that the intended audience can understand. What is valued in an interpreter is their experience, their memory, and their quick reflexes. They are most common in legal proceedings, live TV coverage events, meetings, and conferences.



As earlier mentioned, translators work with written scripts, converting the message from one language to another. Since they are not doing this in an ongoing session, they may have the liberty to use computer-aided translation tools to perfect their work. Since most of them are dealing with very crucial documents, the level of translation precision required here is usually high. That is one of the reasons they are given time to create an almost exact replica of the original script in the target language.

After they are done with the translation, they give the original and the new copy to another linguist for proofreading. After that, the translated document is then drafted in such a way it fits the format used in the original piece. Translators will work on any written information from any source. Some have specialized in certain fields.

translation vs interpretation

Which Of The Two Does Your Business Need?

Many things differentiate interpretation and translation. When faced with the dilemma of which of the two will work for you, consider the following;

  • Format- does your business project involve spoken language or text? That should tell you what to choose.
  • Delivery- when do you require these services? If it’s a voice call happening right away, then you need an interpreter. If it’s an email you have received or sending and both of you have different languages, then you need a translator.
  • Accuracy- if you are interested in accuracy, then a translator will do. Interpreters look for understanding rather than the precise delivery of the original information.

Choosing between an interpretation and translation requires you to understand what the two entail. Once you understand this and know your business needs, then it becomes easier to pick the right fit. This piece should guide you through all that.


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