The Myths Behind Translators

by | Dec 21, 2014 | Translation

1. You just need to know another language.

Knowing two languages does not mean a person can automatically become a full time interpreter and do it successfully. Translation is much more than just knowing another language. A successful interpreter will have a good understanding of language rules, cultural ideas, values and meanings, however, this is just the beginning.

2. Any content can be translated as long as it is in a language they know.

Good, professional translators are likely to specialise in only a few areas, this gives them the ability to keep up to date with the latest changes, news and trends, ensuring they are specialists in their target area and are therefore likely to be more valuable.

3. If you can translate from one language to another you can do the translation in the reverse direction.

The majority of translators cannot translate from one language to another (French – English) and then in the reverse direction (English -French). There is a common misconception that it is the same regardless of which direction it is going in.

4. Translations can be produced immediately.

Another common belief is that translations can be accomplished quickly; however any good translator will need sufficient time to produce quality work that preserves the information, meaning and purpose of the original text.

5. Computers are taking over translators jobs.

Even though the use of computer translation has increased they are far behind on distinguishing between homonyms and producing translations that preserve meanings, however professional translators never deviate from the intended meaning.

6. Interpreters and translators do the same thing

Translation is the writing of language and interpreting is the speaking of language. While the two fields are related they both require two different types of skills.

7. There is only one correct translation.

If you were to translate the same text by ten different translators, it is likely to result in ten different translations; the quality is based on the transfer of information, meaning and style.

8. There is no need for translation as everyone understands English.

About 78% of the world population do not speak English either as their first or second language; this is a large proportion of the world population, this market could not be ignored.

9. A native speaker is always a better translator than a non-native one.

Being a native speaker of a foreign language does not automatically make them a translator. A person’s knowledge of language is dependent upon their education; if they had a poor education their vocabulary, reading and writing skills may not be adequate. Even if they did have a good education that does not qualify a person to translate as language competence is only one prerequisite for translating effectively.

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