What is the difference between interpretation and translation?

Although interpretation and translation share a common goal of taking information that is available in one language and converting it into another, they are, in fact, two distinct processes.

Interpretation refers to the spoken language, while translation refers to the written language. Interpreters require exceptional listening, speaking, and interpersonal skills. Translators, on the other hand, must have outstanding reading and writing skills.

Bilingualism on its own does not guarantee success in interpretation or translation.


Who are the Iowa International Center’s interpreters and translators?

More than 95% of our interpreters and translators learned their foreign (non-English) language in a native setting. This means they are able communicate effectively language and culture of the individuals they are assisting. All Iowa International Center interpreters are interviewed and selected after careful review of their language skills and professional experience. Also, continuing education opportunities offered by the Iowa International Center ensure that our translators are equipped to offer the highest possible level of service.


Why can’t I just use a computer program to translate my document?

Translation is a complex and nuanced process. To be effective, a translation must be complete, accurate, grammatically correct and stylistically appropriate. Achieving this requires a person to make painstaking decisions regarding word usage and sentence structure based on context. No computer program is capable of accomplishing this.



What if I need my translation certified?

A certified translation—typically needed for any official purpose, such as immigration—is an exact translation of a document from the source (original) language into the target (new) language, along with proof that the source language text has been accurately translated into the target language.

Generally, in the United States, such proof consists of a signed statement by the translator, which is then notarized by a Notary Public. The translator’s statement attests that the translator is fluent in both the source and target languages, and certifies that the translation is a true and correct translation to the best of his or her knowledge.

The Iowa International Center can provide such a notarized statement, upon request.

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