Translation work and its specifics are often underestimated. That’s why the importance of translators and translation agencies, the complexity of the challenges they meet in their work, and the value that professional translation adds to businesses remain misunderstood.
Translation needs to be approached in a serious and responsible way in order to keep work on the texts trouble-free. Underestimating the need for a quality translation often leads to unforeseen costs as well.
Before you start a project that includes translation, keep the following misconceptions in mind. You may turn out to be holding one of them J
- If you know the foreign language, you can take the function of the translator
This is probably the most common and most harmful misconception.
Being able to read, speak and write in a foreign language is great! But this doesn’t give you a licence and doesn’t mean that anyone can start working as a translator.
First, the translator needs to have a deeper knowledge in at least two languages: the foreign language and their own mother tongue.
Secondly, Translation is a skill. A translator has to be good at writing and to know the nuances of the language he or she is using.
Thirdly, language is laden with cultural influences. If the culture behind the source language is not taken into consideration, it will be extremely difficult to make a good translation.
So Georgi, even though he may have lived in London for five years, is not exactly the right person to do the job for you! Similarly, it’s a bad idea to give such a hard task to an office employee who ‘knows a thing or two’.
- Translating is easy!
It isn’t, really. It can be a very complicated and difficult job, however unbelievable it may seem to you.
Here’s why it isn’t easy: the translator constantly switches from one language frame to another and back,their mind always occupied in following the rules of both languages. Here is the process: the translator reads the text and considers the source of the information. Then he or she has to make sure he/she understood every aspect of the text and convey it correctly in the target language. This doesn’t simply require excellent vocabulary, but also involves conveying all the subtleties of the source language, such as metaphors, expressions, mood and intention. Easier said than done!
Quality assurance for translation involves experience and served time, as well as constant learning.
- Computers can translate now!
Actually, not quite. No translation software can substitute human translators. Because computers don’t realise what the text sounds like after they’ve translated it; they can’t sense the specific meanings of language units; they’re unaware of the writer’s attitude and of the constantly changing communication environment.
Computers can translate simple, one-dimensional sentences, but they’ll never be able to deal with the complexity of literary or technical texts, for instance.
If you need accurate translation, don’t rely on any form of machine translation. But you can use it to understand the general meaning of what’s said or written in a foreign language.
- Professional translation is not essential
With some reservations, a professional translator is not always needed. But if the translation has to be accurate and sound and look professional, hiring an experienced translator is essential.
A bad and inaccurate translation can lead to problems, misunderstanding and lack of clarity in texts, and those always have negative effects on a company or organization.
We’re sure you’d rather have your car repaired by a car mechanic instead of a car salesman.
So next time you find yourself needing translation, first think about its importance to the project and to your organisation. And if you still think that this doesn’t matter, you could give the text to Georgi, who’s been living in London for five years after all, or to the secretary!