Translation and interpretation are two closely related linguistic fields. On the surface, the only difference between them is the medium: interpreters translate orally, whereas translators work with written texts. Both services open pathways of communication and cultural exchange, and require excellent knowledge and understanding of more than one language. On a deeper level, however, the aptitudes, training and specific language abilities needed to master these skills are strikingly different. In fact, language professionals who can do both successfully are few and far between.
Distinct challenges for translators and interpreters
To begin, translators and interpreters don’t work within the same constraints. While translators have access to computer-aided tools, online resources and reference materials, interpreters must translate in real time, either simultaneously or consecutively, without using any resources. This requires not only a broad understanding of the subject matter, but also excellent listening abilities, quick reflexes and an extensive vocabulary in both languages. Interpreters must also be able to adapt and rephrase colloquialisms, idioms and culturally-specific expressions for their audience. What’s more, interpreters are required to translate in both directions, whereas translation is overwhelmingly unidirectional; most professionals in the field would argue that you should only translate into your mother tongue. Interpretation therefore requires a mastery of both languages that goes beyond what is expected of a translator. Furthermore, while translators must have excellent writing skills, interpreters are essentially public speakers, and must be able to express themselves clearly and concisely while staying calm under pressure.
University programs in translation and interpretation
In terms of training, translation and interpretation have their own unique certifications. Many universities across Canada have Translation Studies programs, with options to translate into English or into French. The content of these programs varies; some are mainly comprised of professional, hands-on courses, while others offer a research-oriented approach focusing on the social, cultural and historical aspects of translation. However, only one university in Canada, the University of Ottawa, includes a Master’s degree in conference interpreting. The admissions requirements for this degree include an entrance examination to test applicants’ linguistic skills, and to assess their aptitude for interpretation and general knowledge.
Comprehensive linguistic services in Montréal
In summary, translation and interpretation are two widely different disciplines, despite their shared roots. When choosing a language professional, it is important to recognize these differences and understand which service suits your specific requirements.
At Textualis, we offer a complete range of professional linguistic services, including interpretation. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more!