Ready to Break Most Common Myths about Translation?

Ready to Break Most Common Myths about Translation?

Have you ever wondered which of the myths about translators are true, and which are false? These articles from professional myth breakers will provide answers.

“Anyone who speaks a foreign language can become a translator.” “Translators should not necessarily be good writers.” Stop accepting these misconceptions! You should understand that any profession requires a certain background and skillset.

Being a translator might seem one of the most misunderstood and underestimated jobs. However, qualified representatives of this field are well paid and respected. It is time to break some of the common myths to let you see the importance of this profession.

Translation and Interpretation Are the Same

Many people assume that these two are synonyms. However, interpretation stands for explaining things, making them clear while you know what translation is. Translators work with the written word. You can interpret things in a written form, but explaining them verbally is a more popular way. A translation does not necessarily have to be done in real-time, unlike an interpretation.

We can also say that interpreting content means converting it. Except for providing the main message, one should deliver it in a way that it would sound familiar to another culture. At the same time, a good interpreter should not be a decent translator too. The knowledge and skills needed for these two professions are different.

Native Speakers Are the Best Translators

False, false, false! Can you imagine how many English-speaking people are out there? This myth is the ridiculous one as it sounds the same way as everyone can become a singer, athlete, nurse, computer genius, etc. Even if one person knows several languages fluently, it is still important to learn in order to obtain the necessary skills just like you would do for any other job.

The translation is more complicated than communicating with people on an everyday basis. It requires many terms, idioms, specific humor, and more. Only after passing corresponding courses and earning a degree, a native speaker can become a professional translator. For this profession, perfect, comparative grammar and expanded vocabulary are critical. Also, such education will provide one with consistent writing and wording.

Those who want to work as pro translators should also attend various computer courses. They should know how to use various tools such as CAT, QA, or translation management apps. Different grammar and plagiarism checking software will also be a great addition to the basic set of instruments and skills.

Translators Can Work with Content on Any Topic

It’s impossible to turn one’s hand to any subject as it’s impossible to be Jack of all trades. Each of us has passion and talent for specific things. No one can master all existing subjects with equal aptitude. Professional translation services might be a nice solution, but it does not always work if you do not understand the context in general.

As each topic has its specific terminology, it might be a challenge even for the professional translator with years of experience to understand which terms have analogies in other languages or are spelled out the same way everywhere. It’s especially critical to be aware of this myth when working with legal, tech, medical, or business documentation when even the smallest mistake or confusing word can lead to adverse consequences.

Some pieces of content require a rather rigorous approach. Sometimes, it is better to hire an expert in a subject who knows the target language pair well than the best translator in the market who is aware of little or nothing about the topic. It is important to understand all the information from the source, including every single terminology, as well as the main question under scrutiny. The price of a mistake is an eroded message which can result in unexpected outcomes.

The Best Way to Translate Is Word-by-Word

Well, it is not a myth from all possible aspects. Sometimes, it works (e.g., with tech, legal, and healthcare-related content). At the same time, precision takes over priority. Those who try to translate literary pieces word-by-word usually fail in their efforts to make it readable.

Perhaps, you have tried to watch movies with word-by-word translation multiple times. Most often, people use such film versions just to laugh and realize the gap in languages and cultures. That is not for serious work. We should mind various idioms, jargon, and slang words that often cannot be translated directly as they lose their sense in other languages.

Most probably, if you try to translate phrases like, “get the hang of it” or “blow off steam” word-by-word into a different language, you will get something funny, weird, and senseless.

A Good Translator Can Replace a Proofreader and Editor

Once your target piece of content is converted into a foreign language, do not hurry to submit it to the audience. Translators cannot and should not work independently. That is not a creative job like a copywriter or designer. They should pass so-called quality assurance checks. If the company does not have QAD, the texts should be at least proofread by the native speakers to make sure they make sense and are free of mistakes and typos.

No matter how good and proficient the translator working for you is, publishing customer-facing information and data without the editor’s opinion is the worst idea. The content you place on your official website might tell a lot about the company and its attitude. It is the face of a business. Thus, without careful proofreading, one risks to scare off potential clients instead of attracting them.

Completely relying on one person, which is a translator, is usually a disaster. It is better to invest a bit more money and get a proofreader than risk company’s reputation. Any mistakes could slip through the cracks. It is especially crucial to check and fix the works of outsourced translator that one hires for the first time. On the whole, it is better to have at least one proofreader and editor in one face to work with all translators directly.


As you can see, it is not easy to become a qualified translator. Otherwise, why would the representatives of this profession be highly demanded and well-paid? A translator should possess many skills and in-depth knowledge of many subjects if he or she wants to work alone. It might take years to study for this position, but once you do, you will barely regret about your choice.

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