The lay person may not know the big difference between translating and interpreting.

Both translators and interpreters typically convert a written text or a speech from a foreign language into their mother language. The linguistic skills required to do this go far beyond the simple knowledge of the everyday language for specialist knowledge of different subjects is essential.

Translators typically convert a written text into another written text (translation). They always translate into their mother language and deal with diverse kinds of texts, including official documents, letters, advertising texts, manuals, presentations etc.

Interpreters typically convert an oral speech from a source language to a target language. They usually do so from a foreign language to their mother language and only rarely vice versa. Interpretation makes it possible for people of different languages and cultures to communicate. There are two common modes of interpreting: simultaneous and consecutive. Simultaneous interpreting requires interpreters to render an oral speech directly and straightaway, while in consecutive interpreting interpreters take notes of the contents of the speech while listening and only after the speaker has said a group of words or a sentence do they present their interpretation in the target language. Other special forms of interpreting, all of which require special training, are court interpreting and sign language interpreting.

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