Translators are often obliged to dispute with their clients about the misconceptions they have about their profession. In many cases, they have to explain the specific characteristics of the translator’s job to break down the myths that have been around for years and directly concern their career. Both translation agencies and freelancers are faced with this problem, or at least know people who do not appreciate the time and effort that goes behind a quality translation job.
Below, we present the most common myths about the profession of translators. They may be useful for clients whose opinions are based on stereotypes and who do not understand what it really means to be a translator.
- Anyone who speaks at least two languages can be a translator
It is one of the most popular myths. A good translation requires much more than just language skills. A person could be fluent in two or more languages and yet may not be equipped to correctly convey the essence of one language and culture to another. Most translators come with professional training and certifications and are highly qualified to carry out their job.
- While the text is written in the language known to the translator, he can translate it independently of the subject
It is true that professional translators usually specialize in more than one field, but all these fields are usually related to each other. In this way, the translators can keep up with current changes and trends in their work area. On the other hand, inexperienced translators often claim that they can translate any text, regardless of the subject. In this case, if the translator does not turn out to be a specialist in the field to which the text belongs, we should not be surprised by a rather defective translation quality.
- The “all-rounder” translator who can do everything does not exist
There are few translators who can translate from/to the particular language with the same ease. Of course, you can find the interpreters that translate well in both directions, but they are in limited numbers. Each translator has a dominant language, and it is in their interest, as well as in the interest of their client, to translate into a language that they consider to be their main language.
- Each translation can be done very fast
Customers often think that translating is a simple activity. To carry out a professional translation, the translator cannot do a given job in a very short time. On the contrary, it takes a lot of time to create high-quality text.
- The native speaker always turns out to be the best translator
This myth is as false as the first, since being a native speaker of a language does not mean or guarantee that this person will be able to translate properly. The field of translation requires many factors, such as discipline, learning, and continuous practice. Normally a native speaker does not usually have all these characteristics. In addition, the translator should know the culture, literature, art, customs, or religion of the linguistic area with which he or she is working. Without this knowledge, the translator will not be able to bridge the barrier between different languages and cultures.
- Translators like it when customers make changes to the translated document
It is not true! After translating, revising, and making corrections, the last thing a translator wants is for someone to change their text. Very often, it happens that the client decides to make these changes thinking that the translator has lost the meaning of the original text. In most cases, even if they have good intentions, customers are wrong. In addition, these changes not only reduce the quality of the translation but also challenge the translator’s qualifications.
- Only translators belonging to a translation organization can translate at the highest level
There are many freelance translators who have never belonged to any organization and yet do high-quality work. To judge quality and effectiveness, the best method is to get in touch with satisfied customers and request for feedback.
- Text translators can also perform interpretations
Translation does not mean the same as interpretation. Each one requires different skills, and it is not so easy to move from one to another. Each skill requires specific knowledge, training and experience.
- Translators like to work for free
It is true that many translators occasionally do free translations. However, you have to keep in mind that translation is primarily their profession, the way to earn a living. Professionals translate medical, legal, technical texts, and many more, which requires not only a lot of time but also a very broad knowledge about particular areas. So ordering a free service is not accepted well. In addition, professional translators have fixed rates, and only in exceptional cases do they decide to do their job at a lower price.
- Being a graduate philologist means being a good translator
Of course, philological studies serve a lot in terms of translations, but they are still two different fields. Translation is a broad specialization, where translation strategies and programs are learned, so it is not enough to just complete language studies to work as a professional translator.