Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What’s the difference between an interpreter and a translator?
Interpretation refers to the translation of spoken word while translation refers to the translation of written text.

What are the different types of interpretation?
Simultaneous interpretation refers to the instant interpretation from one language to another. The interpreter must translate as quickly as the words are spoken. Typically, the simultaneous interpreter uses special equipment, such as a soundproof booth and a wireless microphone and headphone system. The simultaneous interpreter relies on exceptional concentration abilities and a command of language skills.

In consecutive interpretation, the speaker must stop every few minutes while the interpreter provides the translation. This form of interpretation  involves a less literal translation than in simultaneous interpretation. The consecutive interpreter relies heavily on good listening skills and rapid note taking.

What’s the difference between conference, seminar and escort interpretation?
Conference interpretation refers to interpretation for large international exchanges. Seminar interpretation involves smaller, often less formal exchanges, such as training seminars. Escort interpretation typically involves consecutive interpretation of tour guide information, or simply narrative information provided directly by the interpreter for a small- to medium-sized traveling group.

What other duties does an interpreter perform?
A good interpreter also serves as a principal liaison among the participants and host companies and play a ongoing role in program planning, logistics and otherwise ensuring that programs run smoothly. See Liaison, Logistical Support & Training Services for a look at what else you should expect from your interpreter.

How can I make sure an interpreter or translator is well-qualified?
Knowledge of two or more languages does not make one an interpreter or translator. Special language training and extensive experience is necessary. Ask for a resume and references. The best U.S.-based interpreters are certified by the U.S. State Department.

What should I expect to pay?
For simultaneous interpretation at the conference or seminar level, rates can range from $300 to $500 per day (plus expenses) depending on the assignment. Escort interpretation can range from $200 to $250 per day.

Remember that you may need two or more interpreters for an assignment depending upon the workload. For example, it is typical to use two interpreters for a day-long seminar.

For written translation, rates range from $0.11 to $0.13 per word. Additional work, such as formatting graphics, etc., may be charged at an hourly rate.