Myths about a translator’s job or an “insight” into our profession for the client

german_translatorEveryone who works in a translation agency is very familiar with the situation that involves a client calling and asking to translate from, or to, a language that unfortunately isn’t included in that company’s services. His puzzled response to what is quite a logical refusal is: “Why aren’t you working with that language? Don’t you translate with the help of online services? » The most interesting thing is – that isn’t the most common misconception amongst people that have little do with translation.

Myth 1. A lot of people think, for example, that a good translator is someone who merely knows the language really well. However, the job also requires a particular linguistic background, knowledge of linguistic realities, at least a little translation experience. Technical translation skills are vital. And they’d be nowhere without a sliver of writing talent!

Myth 2. You can lower the cost of translator’s services if you first “run” the text through an online translation service and then offer the result to a professional for “finishing up”. Unfortunately, machine translation is far from perfect and if you, as a client, are concerned about the quality of the final product, this option isn’t for you.

Myth 3. A translator has to be able to do a translation of a text of any size within a short timeframe. Those who think that way are completely unfamiliar with the working process attached to the text. One needs to read many articles, flip through a bunch of reference books in order to receive an adequate translation. And a translator is a person too, they need time off. The accepted norm of processed pages (1,800 characters with spaces) is 6-8 per day. A larger volume implies larger efforts and consequently, higher costs.

Myth 4. A good translator doesn’t’t need a dictionary. This is not true. A translator is, of course, a professional and as a professional, he should have a large vocabulary, but he can’t remember all the cases existing in a foreign, as well as his native, languages. Especially since their number is increasing day by day.

Myth 5. There is no difference between written and oral translation. If you can do one, you can do the other. Written and oral translation are often two different styles of thinking. Like, for example, there are singers and then there are composers. Each does what he can. Unless he’s a superman…

We’ve included just a few myths circulating around the profession and the work of a “linguistic middle man”. We hope that this article would bring us closer to achieving a complete understanding between a client and a translator.