And Other Misconceptions About Translation and Translators
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Translation implies rendering the text from one language (source text) into a different language (target text).
Translation is hopefully carried out by a professional translator. Which brings me to what is in my opinion the first misconception: any bilingual person can do translations. This is absolutely wrong on so many levels. A translator is a language specialist, and attention to detail, critical thinking skills, cross-cultural sensitivity, a good memory and precision are essential qualities in this profession. A good translator always uses specialized tools, from CAT tools to dictionaries.
Another misconception about translators is that we know all the words in our languages. How many times did you hear “You’re a translator, how come you don’t know how to translate this word?” Here’s my answer, “I’m a translator, and not a walking dictionary” (please feel free to print this on T-shirts and hand them out to people)!
Another misconception is that our work is so easy that we can work for free or next to nothing. There are too issues here: translation is not easy and translation is expensive (there are costs incurred, i.e. CAT tools, dictionaries, office space, computers, Internet connection, etc.). When a translator calculates his/her rates, all these costs have to be taken into account, including their experience. When getting offered a rate which is next to nothing, i.e. $0.01/translatable word, it is frankly insulting.
Translation means translating words. Yes and no, because even when translating glossaries and terminological lists, where we do translate only words, rendering the same meaning in a different language involves several processes.
And last, but not least, my favorite one, freelance translators are available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Translators do not work in a different time zone where a work week is Sunday till Monday and the work day lasts 24 hours. We do take nights, weekends, and, yes, days off work!