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Common Myths about Translation: Dispelling Misconceptions about Translation Services

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

(This is Part Three of the series of mini shares for the New Translation Client – someone or a company who’d never engaged translation services before and now needs to for various reasons. You can access the rest of the articles here.)

Today, we want to debunk some of the common misconceptions of translation that a first-time translation client may have.

Woman flipping through a file at her workstation

Myth 1: Anyone bilingual can translate

This statement is the same as saying that anyone who can speak English or any language can become an author of literature.

Makes no sense, right?

Being bilingual doesn’t automatically make one an accurate translator. Professional translators need to have near native language fluency in their second working language to be effective as a translator.

There are many considerations involved during the translation process. Professionally trained translators understand the unique characteristics of the two languages and are able to make the appropriate adjustments. For e.g. English texts tend to have more nouns compared to Chinese texts, which tend to have more verbs. One needs adjust accordingly so that the translated content sounds natural.

Myth 2: Translators can translate every topic under the sun

List of translation specialisations starting with 'A'

Translators work within their areas of specialisation. And there are as many topics as there are languages. So, a translator who is specialised in Automation and Robotics might not be the best person to go to when what you need translated is Accounting content.

“Being clear about your specific needs helps you find the translation professional with the right expertise much faster”

Myth 3: Translators are those people you see on TV whispering into the ears of politicians

No, those are interpreters.

When we say translation, we’re referring to the translation of the written word in the form of documents and different types of files, whereas interpretation is done verbally. What do you need – someone to interpret for you real-time verbally, or someone to reproduce your text in another language?

Did we clear up some of your questions about translation?

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