When a translation company answers the phone they often get clients who say that they need a translator. Once they ask questions to get more information they discover that the client really needs an interpreter which is a totally different story when compared to a translator. This is actually a very common and understandable misconception.
In reality translating and interpreting require two totally different skills and are not generally handled by the same person. A translator has the ability to work with written text which can be anything from the translation of an email to a contract or advertisement, and needs to be translated into their native language. This text can come in any format including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, PDF, or a hard copy.
The majority of translation companied will only with their native speaking, in country translators who only translate in their native tongue. These are only the highly qualified and most experienced professionals who have a post graduate qualification in translation as well as several years of experience.
This is a skill that requires them to be able to translate from a source language into their own target language in a way that must appear natural in their native language and thus avoiding a literal translation. The translator also needs to be able to fully understand the idioms which might appear in the original source language and translate them into their own target language while at the same time keeping the original meaning the same.
A consecutive interpreter will note a speech or lecture and then present the content to the audience in their native language. This type of interpreting is often used in court hearings, hospital appointments, business meetings, as well as delegate visits. This type of interpreting is very demanding and tiring and tends to require a team of two that work together and give each other short breaks. Phone interpreting is one of the most common types.