What do you know about the role of a translator?

CAT tools
3 June 2019
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What do you know about the role of a translator?

L'agence de traduction et d'interprétariat à Lyon pour les professionnels

People often know little about the role of translators. Let’s take a look at the five most widespread assumptions about translators.


1.      Translators translate books.

Literary translation is just one small part of the world of translation, and most professional translators will not translate a single book in their entire career. Translators work on a wide range of subject matter, including technical (e.g. instructions for use, manuals, safety guidelines), medical (e.g. clinical studies, medication notices), legal (in particular certified translation), marketing, software, websites, and more. Translators can choose to specialise in any of a variety of fields.


2.      Translation and interpreting are the same thing.

Many people make this mistaken assumption! Admittedly, both translators and interpreters translate from one language to another, but translators work with the written word, while interpreters translate speech.


3.      Translators spend their days with their noses in a dictionary.

The translation profession has evolved in line with technological advances. The work of a translator is computer-based and is performed using CAT tools and professional software, including online dictionaries. Paging through paper dictionaries is a thing of the past.


4.      Translators translate into lots of languages.

Wrong again. The golden rule among professional translators is to translate only into one’s mother tongue. In order to produce a top-quality text, professional translators will translate exclusively into their native language, in which they have a full command of idioms, nuance and style. It is always easier to understand the meaning of a foreign language than to produce flawless and native-sounding text in a language that is not your own.


5.      Anyone who speaks two languages can translate.

Nope… Translation is a professional skill that must be honed. It is not enough simply to have excellent knowledge of several languages. Translators must be inquisitive and have a sharp eye for detail. It has even been proven that people who have been bilingual since childhood do not necessarily make good translators. Indeed, they are more likely to borrow turns of phrase, syntax and expressions from one language when writing in the other, which is perfectly acceptable in their day-to-day life, but problematic in a translation.


So, now you know all there is to know about the role of a translator!


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