Most people know that translation entails re-creating a document in another language, but few appreciate the skill and time involved. From an outsider’s perspective, translation appears straightforward, but this isn’t the case.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about translation: 

  1. Anyone fluent in two languages can be a translator 

It’s true that a translator needs to be able to speak and write in both the primary and target languages, but they also require several additional skills. For example, they must be able to write well and, in some cases, understand how best to present concepts to people of varied cultural backgrounds.

  1. If you can’t afford a translator, Google can do the work for you

You may be tempted to paste your document into Google and hope that it will generate a good translation. However, artificial intelligence is no substitute for human translators. At best, Google Translate will provide you with an inaccurate, somewhat stilted document. In all likelihood, it will generate nonsensical text that does not convey your intended meaning.

  1. Translators are the same as interpreters

In general, an interpreter is someone who acts as a go-between in a live conversation. They are responsible for translating verbal responses and facilitating a meaningful exchange of ideas. A translator usually works only with written text. The two roles require a different set of skills. 

  1. A typical translator will be able to translate any kind of document 

Translators can translate literary works, legal works, technical manuals, and more. However, this doesn’t mean that a single individual can translate any kind of document.

Translators usually specialize in one or two specific areas, because each type of translation necessitates background knowledge. Use the best translation website to find the right translator for your specific needs. For instance, if you need to translate a college transcript, you will need to find a translator who can work with sworn documents.

  1. The best way to check whether a translator is any good at their job is to check they are registered with a professional organization

Some translators choose to join a professional body or organization. This can help them network with their fellow translators, find jobs, and improve their skills. However, many translators rely on their experience and testimonials from satisfied clients. Do not assume that a translator will deliver high-quality work just because they are a member of an association.

  1. If a translator can translate from one language to another, they will be able to translate in reverse

Suppose a translator can translate a document from English to German. Most people assume that they will be able to translate from German to English. Although some translators are happy to translate in both directions, the majority prefer to produce translations in the language that is most familiar to them.

  1. You should always hire a native speaker

Do not assume that a native speaker will automatically be more competent than someone who had to learn a language as an adult. Remember, translation requires a suite of skills that go far beyond linguistic ability.

The best way to ascertain a translator’s competence is by reading reviews from previous clients. Choose a translator who takes professional development seriously. The best translators never stop learning, and show a genuine love of language.

In summary, translation is a valuable skill that can only be developed following a prolonged period of study. To ensure a professional result, you will need to find an experienced translator who takes their work seriously and understands the nature of your project. Good translators do not come cheap, but their expertise is well worth the price.