Unfortunately, many people believe that translation is a field in which anybody with at least a bilingual capacity can work. This might prove true for the most basic translation tasks, but for more complex ones, it is quite wrong.
Some companies decide that saving a few bucks by employing their neighbor’s bilingual kid is a wise move. But in the end, the final product blows, and then they have to employ a professional to finish it.
As a result, the company spends more time and money, when they could have had the product right since the very start.
Even successful companies have dealt terrible blows to their reputation thanks to poor translations; just ask Coca-Cola how did their vitamin water’s “YOU RETARD” slip affect their reputation.
Let’s clear a few things out!
First, a translator is a person who was educated in a rigorous academic environment devised to deliver crystal-clear communication between two languages.
This translates (pun intended) into an aware linguistic education that involves ironing out some issues such as the “spill-over” of source-language terms, idioms and phrase usages into the target-language translation.
One term that I like to use to define what a translator does is “localization.” What I mean by this is that a translator accommodates the source-text into a way that it adapts naturally to the target language. You can’t just translate phrases literally and hope they mean the same. Some phrases and word usages exclusively have a sense within one dialect.
A translator will make sure that every sentence is faithful and transparent.
This faithfulness refers to the degree of accuracy of the translation, meaning that the translated text conveys exactly what the source text conveys, without space for distortions.
Meanwhile, transparency refers to the degree of authenticity. This refers to how “native” the text appears, which means conforming with the language’s characteristics such as grammar, syntax, and idiom.
A bilingual person might handle some of these concepts consciously, but a professional translator doesn’t just handle them; he understands and applies each concept per request.
A professional translator has the skill to turn each knob individually, adjusting his work to be faithful and precise, while not paying too much mind to transparency. Some companies and associations are looking for precise 1:1 translations, other companies are looking for genuine, engaging, “catchy” translations that will stick in the minds of the target audience.
A bilingual or multilingual individual might be familiar enough with both the topic and the target language and his command of the source language might be good. Still, his command of the target language might not include knowledge about the different terms that pertain to the topic.
This leads to inconsistencies in translated texts, and in extreme cases, it might just sound as blatant nonsense (which is often the case with bad machine translations).
Professional translation services such as PickWriters.com provide their clients with professional, quality translators.
Professional quality translator offers:
- Absolute command of both source and target language.
- Sufficient familiarization with the topic or category of the text being translated.
- Deep understanding of the etymologic and idiomatic correlations between the languages as well as their sociolinguistic use.
- Sensible understanding of when and how to use both metaphrase and paraphrase.
A bilingual person might indeed command both languages, but that doesn’t mean they know how to translate one cultural meaning into the target language culture.
Language is, after all, a consequence of the culture, not the other way around. To properly convey a message in another language, one must understand the culture.
Be sure to mind these elements when in need of some translations!