If you speak another language, you can be a translator! :)

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I don’t know have you ever get that feeling but when I tell people my major is Translation/ I’m a translator, they kind of roll their eyes and look down on the job we do. Maybe I’m wrong but some of my friends also feel this way, too.

Recently, I have read an article about this which make me realize that it is not something Turkey and there are other people out there getting this feeling. Here are, according to the writer of the article- Neil Payne, 5 shocking statements about translation even smart people make:

#1: “If you speak another language, you can be a translator”

This is perhaps one of the most common statements I hear from businesses who do not wish to invest in professional translation services. It is possibly the most serious of the lot.

Let’s get this clear – speaking another language does not and will never qualify anybody to become a “translator”. It may help you understand the meaning of something, say in French, but could you properly then translate that into your own language? Some people may be able to accurately translate texts but the vast majority will not.

#2: “Translation is easy peasy”

In the real world, translators and agencies don’t press buttons to produce magically accurate translations. In the real world, translators research their subjects, produce draft translations, agonise over vocabulary choices and struggle with complex layouts. Translation is not easy; it can be, but on the whole translation takes time and it takes effort.

#3: “You can use Google to translate”

For many people when you mention ‘translation’ they start to think or talk about machine translations or software. Google Translate for example is seen by some as their answer to all translation needs. It’s free. It’s cheap. It’s accurate.

No it isn’t accurate. If you believe this then you don’t understand machine translation. No translation software can and ever will be able to completely take the place of a human translators.

#4: “Professional translation isn’t necessary”

OK, it is true that you don’t always need a “professional translator”. There are many good people out there who can translate superbly but do not have professional qualifications or accreditations. However, there are also many good people out there who could fix your car but does that mean you bypass the mechanic?

#5: “Everyone speaks English now. I don’t need a translation.”

In short, if you think this, you haven’t done much travelling abroad. Yes, a lot more people speak English than they did 20 years ago but to think that absolves anyone of having to translate materials, presentations, websites, marketing copy, advertisements, contracts, etc is nonsense. Everyone doesn’t speak English.

To read the whole article, click here.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Often, people do not understand that it is hard work to obtain a translator’s degree. In our last year at university, we were told that the profession of a translator is not ‘protected’, i.e. everyone could call himself a translator. We were shocked.
    Being a translator means for me to do my utmost. It makes sense that it takes years of studying various important topics to pass the exam and later get the translations right.


  2. Oh, I love this article. It sums up clearly every single sentence we translator have to hear more often than not when we meet new people. There’s just another one: “so, what books have you translated?”. And there I go, beginning to explain how translation is not just about books.

    Happy new year, by the way, even if a little late 🙂


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