Translation is the communication of meaning from one language (the source) to another language (the target). Translation refers to written information, whereas interpretation refers to spoken information.

The purpose of translation is to convey the original tone and intent of a message, taking into account cultural and regional differences between the source and target languages and has been used by humans for centuries, beginning after the appearance of written literature.


“Translation” etymologically, means “carrying across” or “bringing across”. It is derived from the Latin word ‘translatio’ which comes from ‘transferre’ (trans, “across” + ferre, “to carry” or “to bring”).

Many times translation is wrongly believed to be an exact science, and mistakenly assume a firmly defined one-to-one correlation exists between the words and phrases in different languages which make translations fixed, much like cryptography.

A distinction can be made between “Translation”, which consists of transferring from one language to another idea expressed in writing, and “Interpreting”, which consists of transferring ideas expressed orally or by the use of gestures (as in the case of sign language).

Although interpreting can be considered a subcategory of translation in regard to the analysis of the processes involved, in practice the skills required for these two activities are quite different.

As the goal of translation is to ensure that the source and the target texts communicate the same message while taking into account the various constraints placed on the translator, a successful translation can be judged by two criteria:

  1. Faithfulness, also called fidelity, which is the extent to which the translation accurately renders the meaning of the source text, without adding to it or subtracting from it, and without intensifying or weakening any part of the meaning; and
  2. Transparency, which is the extent to which the translation appears to a native speaker of the target language to have originally been written in that language, and conforms to the language’s grammatical, syntactic and idiomatic conventions.