The prevailing opinion on translation, as well as on any other profession with which many people do not come into regular contact, 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 translators
Even though machine translation can be very helpful, its result still cannot compare to that of human translators, especially when it comes to longer texts. Translation must consider the context of the text, its slang, idioms, cultural nuances, and many other aspects which the machine translation is not able to process. It should also be noted that there is a tendency towards falsely equivalating machine translation (Google Translate) and CAT tools (e.g. Trados) which can sometimes lead to avoidance of using either of these tools and the benefits they provide.
Translation is always quick and simple
Many clients request translation services at the last possible moment, thinking that translation is a simple task that can be done quickly regardless of the length and the subject matter of the source text. However, the process of translation involves many steps including researching the topic and the subject matter, searching for correct terms, proofreading and editing the text, etc., where every step can take up a significant amount time so that the final translation can be done with precision and quality.
Any translator can translate any type of text
This myth arises directly from the previous one. Clients often think that translators are equally familiar with terminologies of numerous areas, regardless of how specialized those areas may be. Contrary to that belief, experienced translators are usually specialized in several related areas (e.g. media, telecommunications, IT) so that they can follow the latest trends and changes in those areas. Translators with years of experience in translating texts related to telecommunications can find themselves having a lot of difficulties when translating medicinal texts. For this reason, it is best to look for translators that specialize in the area that the client needs.