The Difference between a Translator and a Bilingual

Admin: John Doe | Date:07-01-2020

Need professional bilingual services? Understand the difference between a bilingual and a translator first.

Ever met a bilingual who says that translation can be done just by knowing the language? Have you ever been asked to translate a specific document or file just because you are a native speaker of that particular language or you have learnt it? If you are an interpreter or translator, you have surely come across someone that affirms they can translate a file just because they are a native speaker. But being bilingual does not necessarily mean  that they have the skills to translate effectively, so in the following post, we will describe the major differences between being a bilingual and being a translator.

Bilingual characteristics

A bilingual can switch between two different languages. One can own this ability by acquiring it or by being native. Being bilingual is related to being expert at the use of two languages. Someone who regularly communicates in a language that is different from his native one has this ability, as well as someone who studies  two or more languages to a very high level.

Translator’s characteristics

A translator is someone who works with written content, who can deal with various forms of writing and topics and these can be developed in different professional fields such as legal, medical, business, technical or literary. A translator must know at least two languages because when working with a translation, not only two languages but two different cultures are involved.

For professional bilingual services, you need to hire a translator who would take into account both language cultures. If your translator doesn’t have the cultural knowledge of both the languages, they will come up with a translation that won’t make  sense.

A translator has linguistic abilities but also knows how to adapt and connect with the target culture through language.

The difference

The difference between speaking two different languages and “translating” something within those is as thin as chaotic. This is very risky as the person who is translating must grasp the sense of the text, because if they do not, the translation will not be as accurate.

Two of the most outstanding differences between a translator and a bilingual are:


Both the translator and the bilingual handle two languages, but the translator, as well as having an understanding of both, has the fluency to communicate ideas quickly and effectively.

Besides being fluent with the ideas, the translator must be able to think in many languages at the same time to make sense of the concepts and context.


A bilingual needs some theoretical basis to be able to become an interpreter. It is necessary to have an adequate educational background and understanding of the tools in order to develop the abilities needed to interpret.

Of course, a bilingual can interpret a message, but they may not transmit it faithfully to the target language.


Now that you know the major differences between a bilingual and a translator, we hope that you choose the right professional bilingual services for the translation/interpreting job that needs to be done.

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