Interpreter or Translator

​Welcome, from 

LKS Ventures, LLC 

Upon arrival, the business-like woman introduced herself as the translator and requested a desk, wherewith she proceeded to set up her laptop, pull out her portable translating tools which included her thesaurus, dictionary, notepad, pen and pencils. She was well prepared for the translation assignment.

However, when the hiring party showed up, the scene unfolded like this:

Hiring Party: Excuse me, may I ask what you're doing?

Translator: Certainly. I've been hired for a translation assignment and I'm all set.

Hiring Party: I'm sorry, but we need you in the other room for Spanish spoken language.


The interaction above is an actual and honest misunderstanding between two parties attempting to provide communication access to a third-party, unfortunately, sometimes misinformation may lead to frustration, misunderstanding, and confusion.

As a practicing interpreter and translator, I'd like to share some useful information to help you determine if you need a translator or an interpreter.

Following are a few important points to remember:

A Translator: Translates the written text from one language into another language and possesses the ability to excel in grammatical structure in both the source and the target language. A translator has the option to use readily available reference materials at hand while translating such as a language dictionary, a thesaurus, a word processor, spell checker, voice recorder, notepad, paper, and pencil.

An Interpreter: Interprets the spoken (oral) language on the spot in both the target and the source language. These languages are called 'pairs'. Whether simultaneous or consecutive interpreting, the interpreter must possess the ability to process words cognitively within seconds during the listening process. There are no dictionaries, reference materials, etc., to assist the interpreter while engaged in the interpreting process. Oral communication is of utmost importance and competent public speaking skills are a must.

Whether you're a hiring party or a service provider, making a well-informed decision will help eliminate frustration, misunderstanding, and confusion. The above points are general guidelines and you're encouraged to do further research to help you avoid scenarios such as the one above.