For someone who knows more than one language, the idea of becoming a translator sounds perfect.You might think you’re a translator only because you know a language It only takes a couple of minutes and I’ll get paid by the word!” Sounds easy, right? Well, in reality, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to be an adequate translator.
- “Translation’s easy!”
The first, and biggest, misconception is the belief that translation is easy, and anyone can do it, as long as they’re bilingual. This is totally wrong. It is as ridiculous as the statement that knowing how to cook a few dishes makes you a chef.
In addition to perfect spelling and grammar skills, translators need to get the author’s voice right, too. This is especially important when it comes to the translation of literature.
Translators have to specialize in multiple fields for different documents, such as medicine and law, where a single error in the translation process could lead to irreversible consequences!
- “I could simply use Google!”
Another misconception is the belief that machine-translation services, offered by Google and Microsoft, make the work of a translator even easier. Anyone who at some point has usedGoogle Translateknows that the provided results are far from perfect, and even in some cases- barely comprehensible. Google Translate may seem like an intuitive and easy-to-use service, but in reality, chances are it will take far less time to translate the whole thing from scratch.
- “Translators are their own bosses!”
Translation isn’t a hobby for making easy money. In fact, it is a real and serious profession direction. Many translators work from home as freelancers and that might make them their own boss. It has to be noted that freelance translators could end up with more work on their hands, such as accounting, searching for new clients, and so on.
Even when working for an agency, translators do have a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to working hours, but they still have to be available to accept or decline projects at their convenience.
- “Computers make everything so easy!”
Even if you are an expert and have great experience in multiple specialized fields, there are still standards, tools, and software you need to learn on your own (and at your ownexpense, of course). CAT (ComputerAided Translation) software is one of the biggest hurdles in this regard.While these tools can make the translation progress much faster, there are dozens of different products on the market, and your client could require any one of them. If you don’t want to lose a client, you have to learn how to use them. On top of that, this software isn’t free, with subscription services starting as low as$125 a year.
Still think anyone can be a translator? Ask yourself if 65% of the world’s population really is as fluent in two languages as they think they are. If translation was easy, wouldn’t we have 3.5 billion translators out there competing, driving the price for work down to a fraction of a penny per word? Translation isn’t just for anybody. It’s a real career and a full-blown industry.