Telephone Interpreting

Differences between translating, interpreting and telephone interpreting

(Last Updated On: January 15, 2019)

Despite the awareness of the industry, translation, interpreting and telephone interpreting are still considered the same thing. In reality, the difference in aptitude, skill, background and even knowledge of the languages could not be more different.

How does translating vs interpreting looks like

Rarely does the same person actually practice both, language professionals are either one or the other. Maybe when it comes to switching from interpreting to telephone interpreting the task is easier than going from interpreter to translator, but some skills are still quite different.


It is all about the written word. Translators have a written text that needs to be put into a different language, adapted and contextualized to fit the cultural background. They usually use dictionaries and other reference materials because their focus is the accuracy of the text.

Translators cherish the written word, for them a project is like a puzzle that is uncovered with every new word. In fact, most translators make their own “dictionary” that helps them when they work with the same customer to help them deliver the project faster, better and maintain the same style from one material to another.

Translations have strict quality rules, our translators are native speakers and translating the text is only the first step. Language services can also include editing the text and proofreading, tasks performed by expert translators who are also native speakers.

translator and translation
interpreter and interpretation

Telephone Interpreting

This is all about oral communication. An interpreter has to be able to translate in both directions on the spot; he can be considered the medium for a conversation between two individuals that would not be able to communicate otherwise.
There are two types of interpreting, simultaneous and consecutive. For simultaneous interpreting the interpreter actually translates while the other person is still speaking, he would actually be able to anticipate what the speaker is going to say next. Consecutive can be easier because first the speaker finishes and then the interpreter begins translating, but this involves a very good short memory.

Interpreters are not bound by the same strict rules of accuracy as translators since the most important task is to convey the message immediately.

  • Telephone interpreting services – this the newest form of interpreting. Unlike interpreting this does not require that all parties are in the same location. The use of technology offers so much freedom in this sense.

This type of interpreting is seldom simultaneous and it can actually offer the speakers the freedom of not being there at the same time should the circumstances require it.

For the telephone interpreter the challenge is not having the speakers in front and being able to understand nuances based on facial expressions, but has the advantage of being in front of a computer or a dictionary so he could quickly search for a dictionary when doing telephone interpreting.

Regardless of the differences, all of these jobs have some commune points, passion for both languages and the need for quality. This means that there is not translating vs telephone interpreting, they are different jobs and do not compete with each other.

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