Translating vs. Interpreting

Translating is in the written word. Interpreting is spoken word. Find the right service for your organization.

Translator infographic with a pen saying We Translate written text. The four boxes on the left say Medical Documents, Drivers License, Educational Documents
Graphic explaining Interpreters. Has a graphic person saying We interpret spoken word in various settings. The four boxes on the right say Medical Settings, Public Safety Situations, Educational Institutions & Legal Settings.

What you need to know Interpret vs. Translate

Translation and interpretation are often used interchangeably but they are different. What is the real difference between the two? To directly compare translation vs. interpretation, we need to evaluate some key aspects.


Using computer software programs can help with basic languages however, they do not think about:

  • Culture and how it relates to words
  • Intent and what the words are trying to convey
  • Context or homonyms (words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings)
  • Idioms that have very abstract imagery but deep meaning. Computers do not understand this thought process.
  • Technical translation or slang may not be properly understood.
  • Regional dialects may not be understood.

Interpreting Services

Interpretation is a service that happens at the moment. It is delivered live -- on-site, via video, or by phone-- usually immediately after the original speech. An interpreter repeats spoken words in a different language, deals with live conversation, which can include translating meetings, conferences, appointments, live TV, and more. Since interpretation is in real-time, it requires someone who is able to work under pressure with excellent communication skills.

Translation Services

Translating is working with the written word, converting text from the original language into a target language. The translator must convey the style, tone, and intent of the text while taking into account differences of culture and dialect. Translators are able to use software that facilitates the process and fills in the gaps.

Global Interpreting Services

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