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What’s the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

We have to do a pitch to a client in France and their team don’t speak English so I’ve been asked to arrange a French translator but my friends says I don’t need a translator I need a French interpreter. I’m confused.

Hi Rosie,

What a great question, thank you.

Believe it or not, this is probably the biggest area of confusion in our industry.

Most people use the terms ‘translator’ and ‘interpreter’ interchangeably but technically this is incorrect so I’m very pleased to be given the opportunity to clarify the difference.

What is a translator?

A translator is someone who works with written words.

Whether in the form of a Microsoft Words document, PDF, website or hand-written, the key thing is that the words are in textual form.

We offer several types of translation services as well as transcreation services. We also carry our international brand disaster checks. All these services are carried out by specialist translators as they are also text based.

What is an interpreter?

An interpreter is someone who works with spoken words.

We offer several types of interpreting services where we send interpreters to work with you at your offices as well as innovative telephone interpreters and video interpreters which can save you money by working remotely.

Do you need an interpreter or a translator?

From what you have said in your question, I suspect you need a French interpreter as it seems like you will be visiting your client’s office in France and will need someone to help with discussions in a meeting?

If that’s the case, a consecutive interpreter would be perfect.

The best thing to do would be to give us a call and we can work with you to arrive at the best solution to make your pitch successful at the lowest cost to  you.

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