What is the difference between “interpreting” and “translation”?

There’s a huge and easy difference between the two. Interpreting is verbal, whereas translation is written. Translators translate what they read, and thus the result of their work is written, whereas interpreters translate what they hear, usually working on-site with their clients, or in soundproof booths (this is often the case of Simultaneous Interpreting).

Then what is a “simultaneous translator”?

There’s a huge and easy difference between the two. Interpreting is verbal, whereas translation is written. There’s no such thing as “simultaneous translator”, as the correct version of the intended meaning (i.e.: an interpreter who simultaneously translates what s/he hears) would be “simultaneous interpreter”.

And then what is the difference between “interpreting” and “interpretation”?

These words are often used interchangeably in English, even though they actually refer to two different things. “Interpreting” refers to the work and the service itself, so one can say “I booked an interpreting service for tomorrow”. “Interpretation” refers to the actual rendering and words used by the interpreter in the target language to convey the meaning uttered originally in the source language. So then one can say “His interpretation was very accurate.”

Why there are no fixed prices for interpreting and translation services?

Because translation and interpreting are services, and not products, and as such their nature may vary quite a lot according to the content of what needs to be translated, which is to say, according to the nature of the text. Let’s take a slogan, for instance: it may only have four-five words, but its translation is not going to cost as much as five words. And why is that? Well, that happens because of the nature and the purpose of a slogan. When the words you choose are intended to make your potential clients buy, the words in the new translated text shall assist you in achieving the same goal. A literal translation won’t do the trick. So a good translator will do an intense market research, along with communication and branding research, to make sure the new text will achieve the intended goal.

Do I need an “English – Chinese translator” or “English – Mandarin translator”?

It is kind of the same thing. Usually when one says “Chinese”, they refer to “Mandarin Chinese”, even though from a linguistics perspective, “Chinese” is a family of languages, and thus it includes all its varieties, such as Mandarin Chinese (the Chinese language as spoken in RPC), Taiwan Chinese (the Chinese language as spoken in Taiwan), Singaporean Chinese (the Chinese as spoken in Singapore). So if you are in need of an English Chinese translator, or a Chinese English translator, the best way to know what kind of service you actually need, is again to ask your translator. Being my B.A. thesis and M.A. thesis written with regard to Chinese dialects, I have a specific training in language varieties of Chinese. So when you’re asking for a price quote for an English to Chinese translation, you can specify the country of destination of your texts, so that they will be targeted and written according to the expectations of the final readers. As you know, there are huge differences between American English, Australian English and British English, and Chinese with its varieties are not an exception to this rule.