8 Myths about Translation

Translators must often deal with people who share misconceptions about the translation profession. There are some myths about the industry which circulate all the time. 8 of the most common myths about translation will be presented below.

1. Everyone who speaks two or more languages can become a translator.

Many people believe in it; however, knowing two languages is not enough. Translation is much more complicated and non-translators are usually not aware of that.

2. Translators can translate anything in a language they know.

Only inexperienced translators can say that they can translate any subject matter. Good translators specialize only in a few areas.

3. Translation in one direction is the same as translating in the reverse direction.

Some translators are able to translate well in both direction but they are in minority. Most translators have dominant languages in which they prefer to translate.

4. Translators can translate anything straight away.

Many people believe that any translation can be done immediately. They do not realize that
a quality product requires time.

5. Native speakers are always better translators.

Being a native speaker does not equal being a good translator. Translation requires study, discipline and practice. Native speakers often do not have these qualities.

6. Only members of professional translation organizations can translate well.

There are many excellent translators who does not belong to any organization. References of satisfied customers may say more about a translator’s competency.

7. All translators are good interpreters.

Translation is something different than interpretation. Working with written material and spoken language require different skill sets.

8. Translators like translating for free.

Many translators do pro bono work from time to time; however, being a translator is a job which should be paid. Most translators do not treat it like a hobby and it is improper to ask them for
a free work.

This article was based on the article ‘Translation Myths’ by Clint Tustison.

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