What’s the difference between translation and interpreting?

Translation involves the written word, while interpreting is spoken. If your source text is a book, Word file or transcript, it needs to be translated. If you need to hire someone to facilitate a live conversation, speech or phone call, the person for the job would be an interpreter, not a translator.


Do I really have to pay for every word, even the ‘little ones’?

Yes! Translators generally charge by the word, rather than by the hour, because it’s convenient for the client to know up-front how much the translation will cost before the job begins. But usually, that charge is calculated based on the translator’s desired hourly rate, divided by how many words, on average, they can translate in an hour.


Why pay a translator when Google will do it for free?

Google Translate is useful for a variety of things, like understanding a text message from your Polish aunt, or getting a rough idea of what is being discussed on a Reddit thread. Professional-grade translations intended for the general public are not one of those things! If the translation is for a book or paper that you intend to publish, or anything your clients or potential customers are going to see, the stakes are too high to risk using automated translation services.


One of my employees took French in college. Can’t they translate into French for me?

It depends. If it’s an informal note, and you just need to get a basic message across, they can probably get the job done. But for anything destined for public use, you should consider hiring a native French translator. Even professional translators only work into their own native languages: in my case, I translate from French and Spanish into English, because English is the language I grew up in.