14 Oct 2019

A guide to translation and interpreting services

Understand the different roles of translators and interpreters, and why it's important to hire a professional.

Interpreters work with the spoken word

Did you know there are different types of interpreter?

It's important to choose the right interpreter for your business need. For example, an interpreter might specialise in conferences, business meetings or court hearings.

Always employ a professional interpreter if:

  • The meeting is important and/or confidential
  • You need subject expertise - many interpreters specialise in particular sectors and understand specialist terminology
  • Any interpreting errors could have serious consequences for you company, staff or brand
  • You need to understand cultural differences as well as the language.

My colleague / friend speaks the language - they can interpret, can't they?

Interpreting is a highly specialised skill that enables a professional interpreter to convey the essence of a conversation quickly and accurately. They also have cultural and technical knowledge that a colleague is unlikely to possess.

Translators work with the written word

Always employ a professional translator if:

  • Your documents are important and/or confidential 
  • Any translation errors could have serious consequences
  • Your message needs to be conveyed in a particular way to a specific audience
  • There are cultural implications in translating the document (failure to understand instructions, reputational damage to your business, etc.)

Can't I just use Google Translate?

Online translation tools are fine if you just need to understand the gist of something for your own purposes. However:

  • They won't always be accurate
  • They don't take account of cultural and linguistic nuances
  • You have to upload the document, putting it in the public domain

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting is the only UK-based independent professional membership organisation for practising translators, interpreters and language services providers.

Have confidence in who you hire. Find an ITI Qualified translator or interpreter, or a language services provider that is an ITI Corporate member in the ITI Directory.