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The most common myths about translation


The prevailing opinion on translation, as well as on any other profession with which many people do not come into regular contatct, is usually based on a lack of information and on personal views. In most cases it turns out that this opinion is wrong, which leads to misunderstandings and disagreements when the need arises for using the services of this profession.

These misunderstandings can eventually cause the termination of cooperation leading to mutual loss: a translator or a translation agency loses a business opportunity, and the clients will often turn to an individual or company who will meet their requirements in accordance with their own beliefs, which often leads to poorer translation quality and continuation of erroneous opinions about translation. The objective of this text is to present some of the most common inaccurate perceptions about translation in order to explain its true nature.

Knowing two or more languages ​​automatically implies translation skills

This is probably the most common myth about translation resulting from insufficient knowledge of the translation profession and all the activities it covers. Translation is not just switching words from one language into another, and knowing more than one language does not guarantee that a person will be able to clearly convey the intended message and all its nuances. Most translators and interpreters are professionals with professional training and years of experience.

There is no difference between translation and interpreting

The term translator generally includes both translators and interpreters, so very few people know how different these two types of translation actually are. Translators and interpreters must master different sets of skills: translation requires extensive knowledge of the rules of language and translation tools, whereas interpreters must develop the ability to quickly understand and convey the speaker's message relying on their own memory, resourcefulness, and the ability to take notes.

Machine translation will completely replace human translators

Although machine translation can be very useful, its performance is still not comparable to human translators, especially when it comes to longer texts. The context of the text, the presence of slang, idioms, cultural nuances, and many other things the machine translation is not capable of must be taken into consideration. It should be noted that the misidentification of machine translation (e.g. Google Translate) with translation tools (e.g. Trados) is common, which sometimes leads to avoidance of the use of both instruments and ignoring the benefits that they provide.

Translation is quick and easy

Many customers turn to translators and translation agencies at the last minute, thinking that translating is a simple task that can be done quickly regardless of the length and subject matter of the source text. However, translation requires a number of activities, including research of the topic and subject area of the text, searching for relevant terms, proofreading and editing, etc., which require enough time to make the final translation accurate and of high quality.

Every translator can translate every subject matter

One can say that this myth stems directly from the previous one. Clients often believe that translators are equally skilled in working with terminology from various fields no matter how specialized they are. However, experienced translators are usually specialized in several related fields (e.g., media, telecommunications, information technology) in order to be able to study the latest changes and trends in these fields. A translator who has spent years translating in the field of telecommunications will have a lot of difficulty translating medical texts, so it is best to search for translators who specialize in the field that the client needs.

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