Translation is a process by which ideas that are written in one language are represented by equivalent words of another language. Translation deals with written texts while interpretation deals with spoken words/information.

Interpretation refers to the transfer of ideas from one language to equivalent ideas of another language in form of speech. It involves one person speaking in a certain language and another one speaking the same message into another language.


  • Source Language (SL) is the language from which the information is taken.
  • Target Language (TL) is the language into which the meaning is turned.
  • Translator is a person who conveys written ideas from one language to equivalent ideas of another language.
  • Interpreter is a person who transfers the meaning of spoken messages from one language to equivalent meaning of another language in form of speech.
  • Source Text refers to message to be translated into another language.
  • Target Text refers to message translated from another language.



  1. Both render information to the particular audience.
  2. Both simplify communication among the people.
  3. They both need skills and knowledge.
  4. They are expensive.
  5. They are both source of income.


Translation and interpretation can be differentiated under the following factors:

  1. Medium – translation is done through written medium whereas interpretation is done orally.
  2. Time – in most cases interpretation takes place in real time whereas translation does not. It requires pre-translation processes such as reading texts, dictionaries and encyclopedia.
  3. Skills required – translation requires mainly reading and writing skills while interpretation mainly requires listening and speaking skills to accomplish.
  4. Setting – interpretation is done in as specific setting such as in conferences, churches or any other place where an interpreter can meet his /her audience. On the other hand translator does not necessarily need a special place to carry out his work.
  5. Participants – during translation, translator works alone but in interpretation interpreter works with source language speaker and the audience.


To become a successful translator one has to abide with the following principles:-

  • Translator should be very competent in both languages i.e. SL and TL. To become competent one must make use of dictionaries both monolingual and bilingual can be of great help.
  • The translator should understand the field covered by source text. Knowledge of the field is important because different fields have different terminologies which usually have special meaning in the particular field. For example religious text will be translated well if the translator understands it well.
  • Translator should consider the style used by the writer of the text in the source language. Here the translator may either preserve or violate the style used in the source language to make the readers understand.
  • The translator should try to be objective. Being subjective or biased will cause translated work to be different from that of the source language. Failure to be objective is mainly influenced by the ideology found in the community where the translator lives or hails from.
  • Consider the expectation of the readers. Translator should use the language style that will make the readers understand the message translated. For example translating a science text for ordinary people who are not conversant with science will make the translator use the style that is not scientific.
  • Translator should observe originality of the text. He or she should try as much as it is reasonable to produce the content that matches with the source text.


A competent translator or interpreter should have the following qualities:

  1. Familiarity with the subject matter of the text/speech to be translated or interpreted.
  2. A very good knowledge of the language written and spoken from which she/he is interpreting/translating (Source Language).
  3. An excellent command of the language into which she/he is translating (Target Language).
  4. A good sense of when to metaphrase and when to paraphrase.
  5. Adequate knowledge of idiomatic correlation between the two languages.
  6. Extensive reading of different translations – especially those relating to his/field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *