What's the difference between interpreting and translating?


Interpreting is the verbal translation of the spoken word. It can be simultaneous (in real time) or consecutive (afterwards).

Simultaneous interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting means that the interpreter, often called the simtrans, conveys what is being said simultaneously in the client's language. There is no time gap, as in consecutive interpreting.

It is typically used at conferences, small meetings, and factory tours, and for market research interviews at either central locations or online when clients want to experience a real 'live' feeling.

Conference Interpreting

Conference interpreting means simultaneous interpreting at conferences and meetings. It requires two interpreters per language who, sitting in a booth, listen to the proceedings via headphones and interpret simultaneously into microphones. Members of the audience wear headsets that enable them to select the channel appropriate for their language. Conference interpreters always work in pairs and take turns, swapping roles approximately every twenty minutes.

For a conference with simultaneous interpreting, conferencing equipment such as interpreting booths, technicians etc. is required.

We work with reliable specialists in this field and will detail the cost of conferencing equipment in our quotation. 

Telephone Interpreting

Telephone interpreting is used in two-way conversations or telephone conferences. The interpreter listens to the conversation and simultaneously translates it.

In market research, a telephone interpreter will convey live telephone interviews and focus groups, much as a 'simtrans' does at central locations.

We will be pleased to set up a telephone conference for you.

Video Conferences

Interpreting at video conferences works much like telephone interpreting, except that the participants are able to see, as well as hear, each other.

Conferences can be supplied as a live stream or placed on the Internet for access at any time.

For a humorous look at some of the issues involved, watch this conference call video by Tripp & Tyler.

We will be pleased to set up a conference for you.


Whispered interpreting, or chuchotage, is used for individual listeners and very short assignments. The interpreter is positioned next to or behind the listener and uses no technical equipment.

Mobile Tour Guide Systems

Tour guide interpreting uses systems consisting of a microphone/transmitter for the interpreter and receiver headsets for the listeners.

They are used for simultaneous interpreting at small conferences, factory tours, etc. To work well, ambient noise levels should be low.

consecutive interpreting

Consecutive interpreting means the interpreter will convey what is being said one paragraph at a time, after the speaker has paused.

A good rapport between speaker and interpreter is essential. It is also worth noting that interpreted proceedings will take twice as long, i.e. a 20-minute presentation will run to 40 minutes. 


Translating is the written conversion of a text from one language to another.

It comprises three steps: translating, proofreading, and editing.

Proofreading & Editing

Proofreading is a multi-stage process whereby a translated text is checked for:

  • grammatical and spelling errors
  • factual accuracy
  • omissions, and
  • correct terminology,

and finally edited to ensure that it reads smoothly, sounds natural, and conveys exactly what the author intended, taking into account any cultural differences (localization).


Consistency in translation is vital. It means always using the same term for the same concept or object, or the same phrase to describe the same idea or procedure. It ensures that text copy is easily understood and that corporate language is maintained throughout all translation jobs and across all platforms.


Certified Translations

Certified translations are required by official authorities and courts.

The stamp and signature certify that the translation is a true, accurate, and correct rendering of the original.


Transcribing means creating a text copy of an audio file. There are several types of transcription:

  • Verbatim
    • Transcriptions of recorded interviews or group discussions - either in the original language or translated into the client's language
  • "Smoothed"
    • The preferred version of interviews or discussions, with all "ums" and "uhs" removed and provided in either the original language or as a translation
  • Summarized
    • An overview of responses of interviews or group sessions, either in the source (original) language or translated

Native speakers

Native speakers are people who speak a language as their first language. This is normally the language their parents speak and the language of the country in which they were brought up.

They are therefore fully versed in the cultural nuances and the subtleties of the language.


Still have questions?

Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.