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5 Myths about being a translator

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“Aren’t you afraid that technology will take over your job?” – a pot of gold to a translator who has never heard this sentence. No, translators are not concerned about such matters. It is true that today we have a lot of apps and special tools to translate words. What they cannot do, however, is to understand the context of the phrase or the entire text. As long as computers are not able to think for themselves, the translation profession is safe.

Another common misconception that drives translators crazy is the assumption that anyone who knows a foreign language can translate. Think about it this way; just because you know how to use computer does not necessarily make you a software programmer. That requires training, studies and a variety of skills. The same goes with translating; even if you are familiar with two languages, that does not mean you can call yourself a translator. To become one, you need to go through training, not only theoretical but also practical.

Experience matters here as well. Also, do not forget that there are different types of translations: medical, technical, literature, to name a few. If you want to be a respected and professional translator, you cannot do without proper training.

“If I pay you more, can you do it faster?” I am pretty sure that this line will make translators roll their eyes. The answer is: no. And please remember that just because you have a lot of money to spend, it will not make a translator work faster. Why? Because the process of translating does not consist only of writing words from one language to another. You need to read the source text, find a context, translate, check your work, proofread… It takes time. Of course there are certain circumstances when, for example, you will get the translated text the same day but it all depends on the number of words. But, at the end of a day it’s up you: you can have a well-translated text or just one done quickly.

Many people believe that there is only one translation possible for each text. Trust me, if you give the same text to five skilled translators, you will get five different translations and I can assure you they all will be correct. Why? Because we have a magical world of synonyms. And in most languages, one word has many equivalents. Remember, just because you would use a different word does not mean that another one is wrong.

And finally, the last misconception: the number of pages in the source text will be exactly the same as in the target text. It will not, simply because languages differ. Some, such as Polish are very descriptive, so you will definitely produce more words. Never forget that idioms are also different and translating them directly from one language to another will make no sense.

Remember that a translator is not a robot and will not sit 24/7 and work on your text. The best professionals will be happy to deal with your text but give them a little time. Trust me: they know what they are doing. :)

(MW)

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