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The 4 Traits Of A Professional Translator
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The 4 Traits Of A Professional Translator

People need to communicate with one another, and with thousands of languages in existence on the planet (estimates run as high as just under 7,000), the translator’s role becomes an invaluable one. He or she makes communication possible across the language barriers, and communication establishes relationships and facilitates the exchange of knowledge. The translator is therefore both a connector of people and a transmitter of information, which to my mind are roles of inestimable value.

However, there are those out there who do not even consider translation to be a real profession. These are the folks that believe the myth that a translator does nothing more than replace words in one language with words of another, that it is essentially something anyone with a year of high school Spanish (or your language of choice) could do well. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Of course, there are a lot of people out there who call themselves translators who have only a rudimentary knowledge of a language, but these people are not real translators. They are not professionals. Their work is flawed. And we’ve all seen their work. Just think of all the signs and menus out there that have made you laugh so hard you wet yourself reading them.

So, what is the difference between a professional translator and someone who thinks they are a translator just because they understand a few words in another language?

  1. Professional translators are fluent in both the source and target languages they are working in, but translate solely into their native language for quality assurance purposes. The reason for this is that a translator understands his/her native tongue the best. They understand the grammar and vocabulary of their native tongue, as well as the subtle nuances and implied meanings that make something “sound wrong”, even if it is not technically incorrect on paper, much better than they do the second language.
  2. Professional translators also have a working knowledge of the culture of their source language(s), which is often obtained by having lived in that culture for a period of time.
  3. Professional translators are passionate about their work and therefore committed to quality. They feel a responsibility to do the best job they possibly can because they are imparting information, and that information must be accurate. They have an eye for detail and do not simply ‘replace one word for another’ – that is, translate literally. In some cases, text translates fairly well literally, but in other cases, sentences must be reconstructed and entire new words or phrases must be used in order to get the proper meaning across.
  4. A professional translator also translates not only accurately, but true to the style of the original document. A formal document must use formal language in the translation, etc. This means that a translator must not only be fluent in the languages he or she is working with, but also have a good vocabulary, good grammar and be a good writer. They must also know their client and the audience the text is intended for.

So, as you can see, being a translator – a proper translator – is much more than just “replacing words in one language with words in another”, and it demands a professional level expertise. It demands dedication. It demands a great deal of effort. And when you have found a translator who has all of these traits, you have found a good translator who has the ability to accurately and clearly communicate the information that needs to be communicated.

You have found a professional.


Street Talk

Billy2  

I totally agree. Being a Professional Translator goes way beyond just knowing the meaning of words.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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