3 Common Myths About Interpreting


Despite the increasing demand for interpreters, those who hire them typically know little about the profession. As a result, numerous misconceptions about training, requirements, and costs continue to spread. To dispel some of the misinformation, we’re tackling three of the most common myths about interpreting.

  1. Anyone who is bilingual can be an interpreter. While someone must be fluent in two or more languages to interpret, it’s only the first step. Professional interpreters typically complete a specialized interpretation program which includes a minimum of 40 hour of training on linguistics, best practices, and ethics. Medical interpreters and legal interpreters must also obtain federal and/or state certification and complete continuing education units to maintain it.

In addition to training, professional interpreters must adhere to a code of ethics and remain neutral. Asking an employee, friend, or family member to interpret can create a conflict of interest and may be illegal in some situations.

  1. Interpreters and translators are interchangeable. The words “interpret” and “translate” are often used interchangeably. However, the two roles are very different. An interpreter translates orally from one language to another, while a translator translates the written word.

In some instances, an interpreter will need to review a short document and translate it orally. This is known as sight translation, which is a hybrid of translation and interpretation. However, sight translation isn’t appropriate for longer documents such as a patient’s bill of rights. When you have a longer document or need a copy in another language, you should hire a professional translator.

  1. Professional interpreters are too expensive. Depending on the specialization and language pair, an onsite interpreter can cost upwards of $100 per hour. For many organizations, the cost may make hiring someone seem out of reach. Yet the cost of not hiring a professional interpreter may be even greater. Interpreting mistakes—especially in the medical and legal fields—can lead to expensive, and sometimes catastrophic errors.

When budget constraints are an issue, remote options such as over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote (VRI) can serve as affordable alternatives to onsite interpreting. When you hire a remote interpreter, you’ll save time and money because you can connect with someone in minutes and forgo the transportation costs.

How Boostlingo Can Help

As you can see, professional interpreters—whether onsite or remote—play an essential role in communication and industry compliance. However, you may be unsure of how to find one that meets you needs. That’s where we come in.

With the Boostlingo interpretation platform, you can connect with an interpreter either over the phone or via video remote in minutes. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or tablet for video calls. Plus, you’ll get access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreting Network (BPIN), which includes over 10,000 interpreters who speak over 200 languages.

Think Boostlingo is right for you? Start your free trial today!