What is The Difference Between Interpreting & Translation?

Interpreting is oral translation (spoken).

MODES of Interpreting:


The speaker and interpreter take turns talking. The interpreter waits for the speaker to finish, then renders the speaker’s words into the target language.

Most common for: events with few participants: meetings, depositions, trials, etc.

The interpreter usually sits next to the speaker but should be “invisible”—speaking in the first person as the speaker, not “he/she said.”


The speaker and interpreter talk at the same time. The interpreter listens and interprets the speakers’ words at the same time, usually with a 1-2 second lag.

Most common for: conferences and other large events. Interpreters are often in soundproof booths with microphones, while the participants listen on headphones to avoid disruption.

Translation is done in writing.

Types & Formats of Translation:

Language Combination

English to Spanish, Spanish to English, French to Italian, etc.

Subject Matter

Legal, medical, technical & other industries

Translation Volume

Anywhere from a single page to millions of words


Word, Excel, PDF, desktop publishing, etc.

Skills Unique to Translators

  • Usually work only in one direction into their native (or strongest) written language
  • Excellent reading comprehension in one or more languages
  • Great referencing and researching skills
  • Excellent writers in their target language

Types of Professional Interpreting

Legal Interpreters

  • Used for trials, hearings, depositions, attorney-client meetings and more
  • Accurately interpret both conversational vocabulary and specialized legal terminology
  • Maintain a high ethical standard in order to remain neutral and avoid potentially miscommunicating an intended message
  • For international parties, legal interpreters also need to be knowledgeable of the litigation processes and terminology used in each region

Medical Interpreters

  • Used to communicate medical & healthcare concepts for businesses, insurance professionals and litigators as well as between patients and their healthcare professionals
  • Require intimate knowledge of medical terminology, concepts & procedures
  • Require understanding of cultural norms
  • Follow ethical guidelines which protect confidentiality and prevent counseling

Conference Interpreters

  • Have years of highly specialized education and training
  • Understand terminology and concepts for various industries
  • Able to listen for a period of time and accurately repeat everything that was said while preserving the tone and intended message
  • Many belong to professional associations with rigorous membership requirements

Sign Language Interpreters

  • Used to communicate between signed language and spoken language
  • Many are industry specialized to communicate medical, legal and other specific terminology
  • Utilize facial expressions, body language and lip movements to enhance communication
  • Some specialize in tactile signing for those who are both deaf and blind

Need an interpreter? Click here

Types of Document Translation


  • Patents
  • Bylaws
  • Claim documents
  • Contracts


  • Clinical trial documentation
  • Accident reports
  • Medical bills
  • Healthcare records


  • Technical manuals and drawings
  • Engineering specifications
  • Software documentation
  • Websites
  • Standard operating procedures

Business & Government

  • Responses to international RFPs
  • Employee training materials
  • Human resource documentation
  • Financial reports
  • Customs documentation
  • Business correspondence

Click here to read about “Updating & Translating Contracts and Important Documents”

High Quality, Certified Translations

Magna Legal Services provides document translations in any language combination, subject matter and volume. Communicate confidently with accurate, high-quality translations that preserve the right context and tone.

Translated Documents: Professional Language Services with Magna

Translation Services include:

  • Translations into and from any language conducted by college-educated, vetted native linguists with subject-matter expertise and knowledge of cultural norms
  • Rush turnaround as needed
  • Document review and summary translations to determine relevance before full translation
  • All translations are edited and proofread by at least a second, and in some cases, a third equally qualified linguist to ensure accuracy
  • Certification is provided at no additional cost.
  • Multilingual glossary management to ensure consistency and comprehension
  • Custom-tailored translation solutions, so you only pay for what you need!

Whether you need one language or many, full translation from scratch or review/editing of existing translations, or a combination thereof — Magna can handle it all.

Need document translations? Click here for a no-obligation & confidential free quote.

Legal & Professional Interpreting Services

Magna provides interpreters on-site for any language, anywhere in the world for all types of events, including conferences, depositions, trials, meetings and medical examinations.

Our interpreters are all college-educated, certified professionals with extensive experience in legal, medical, technical, and business fields. You can be confident that the interpreter assigned to your event is a vetted professional with the necessary language skills and professionalism to ensure your success.

If your looking to book an interpreter or would like to know more, contact us at [email protected] or 866.624.6221

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