The difference between oral and written translation


The difference between oral and written translation

People often do not recognize the difference between written and oral translation, and they are significant, although the two processes rely on translating text from one language to another.

Four main differences

1. Translation time

Oral translation (interpreting) takes place on a regular basis-  during a conversation, speech or discussion. We can translate personally, but also via telephone, television or video. Written translation usually takes place some time after the formation of the text. As a result, the translator has time to become familiar with different helpful materials (such as dictionaries, glossaries), he has time to consult the experts and error-free text (e.g. document, web page or help file).

2. Degree of accuracy

Oran and written translation require different level of accuracy. Although interpreters are trying to be  the most thorough, it is very difficult when working on live and sometimes they omit details of the speech. It is a different story  in the case of written translators. Before handing over the text, they have time to check every word. It allows them to faithfully present the original content.

professional written translator

3. Fluency and direction of translation

The interpreter must know the source and target language fluently enough to explain on live in both directions without the use of reference materials.  Interpreters are people with excellent qualifications, and their work is extremely demanding. For this reason, they work in pairs and must swap every 20 minutes to avoid fatigue. Usually, a professional written translator translates only on one language- the native language. For this reason he does not need to know the source language as fluently as the interpreter. However, he should fully understand it and know the culture of the country with linguistic norms. Such knowledge can guarantee a very good quality of the translation.

4. Lingual and stylistic nuances

Oral translators as well as written translators must be aware of the need to create metaphors, analogies and idioms in the target language, which will be fully comprehensible to the recipients and adapted to the target language. Interpreters must also pay attention to tone, modulation and voice quality, and many other aspects of spoken language to be transmitted to the recipient in an appropriate manner. The skills that must be mastered by translators and interpreters, are different, but they both share their knowledge with those who without them would not be able to understand  provided information.