Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Frequently Asked Questions

A student interpreter in action.

What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

A TRANSLATOR is one who renders WRITTEN word from one language to another. An INTERPRETER is one who renders SPOKEN word from one language to another.

What is Translation?

Translation is the process whereby the meaning, style and information of a piece of written text in one human language is reproduced in another written human language. For example, an English document is translated into German so that it creates the same impression on, and communicates the same information to, the German reader as it did for the English reader.

What is Interpretation?

Interpretation is the oral rendering of oral messages, and may be done either simultaneously or consecutively. Simultaneous interpretation is by far the best known of these techniques. Here, the interpreter sits in a booth receiving the message to be interpreted through earphones; then, having understood the message, he or she delivers it in the target language into a microphone. In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter takes notes while a speaker delivers the message (in five to seven minute long sections), and then the interpreter delivers the message in the target language, employing special note-taking and memory improvement techniques to increase the amount of information that can be accurately interpreted.

What is Localization?

Localization (L 10 N) is that process whereby an object (computer program, multimedia presentation, document, etc.) is not only translated, but also adapted to another culture. Such things as date formats, Metric/English measures, comma/decimal conventions etc. are considered in addition to the normal language issues. The idea is to make the product/service seem as though it originated in the target culture.

What is Computer Assisted Translation?

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) is the label given to that category of computer program which supports humans who are performing translation tasks. The tools merely provide environments which enhance the ability of humans to provide timely translations of high quality in a cost effective manner. Examples are Sentence Memory (or Translation Memory), on-line dictionaries, bi-lingual editing systems, etc.

I need the services of a professional translator or interpreter - how do I find one?

Please contact the our office, and we are glad to pass on the names and contact information of our alumni, professors, and in some cases, current students.

Phone: 831.647.4198

Do I need to know what my major will be when I apply to the translation & interpretation programs?

No, you are not expected to know whether you will major in Translation, Translation and Interpretation, Conference Interpretation, or Translation/Localization Management. All students are exposed to translation, consecutive interpretation, and simultaneous interpretation in their first year. After two semesters, both you and your academic advisor will know more about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you like. In the second year, you will declare your major and focus your studies.

How do I prepare for a career in translation, interpretation, or localization management?

Read our 10 Ways to Prepare for studying translation, interpretation, or localization management.