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Two false assumptions translators want to clear up before you hire them

Professional translators are experts in their field, providing essential services across huge range of business sectors. However, because of this wide reach, many clients come to us with mixed information about what translators can do. While it’s certainly a skill to be able to speak two languages, that doesn’t make your translator omniscient.

Here are two popular misconceptions you should take into consideration when hiring a translator:

  1. Most translators or interpreters can work across different industries

If you want an excellent job doing, you want an expert in their field – that refers to industry as well as translation. If you are hiring a translator from an organisation like London Translations, you will often find a list of sectors covered by that translation agency. This is not just a way of showcasing who they have worked with. It is also a way of communicating the company’s specialist areas of expertise to potential customers. What is not always immediately obvious is that each of these areas of expertise will be covered by different translators.

Whilst knowing the ins and outs of a particular language is crucial, it is just as crucial that a translator or interpreter really understands the topic being covered. Thus, a good translator or interpreter will not only be a language expert, but also an expert in one particular field.

If you want your document to read the same way in more than one language, this is an extremely important thing to keep in mind. It isn’t just the words themselves which are being translated, but the context and the concepts. Using a sector specialist translator or interpreter ensures your messages do not lose their meaning in translation – a task Google Translate often fails at when attempting to translate more than a single, simple sentence.

But this also means it’s unlikely that you can use the same translator to cover different subject areas. A translator with expertise in medical translation, for example, is unlikely to be able to translate film transcripts with the same accuracy.

  1. Translators and interpreters are interchangeable

The two are often confused as the same skill, however translating a piece of written text and interpreting what is being said – as it is being said – are two very different jobs. While both jobs need a vast knowledge of two specific languages, the actual skills required to do each are quite different.

Translators usually have time to carefully translate and research a document in order to keep its written meaning for another audience. Interpreters work in real time, at a far faster pace, and without the aid of a dictionary or translation machines (TM).

There are a few translators adept at interpreting, and vice versa, but many choose to specialise in one skill or the other. Even with a fluency in their chosen language, a translator will often be hesitant to take an interpreting job in a professional setting, where the speed of the spoken word varies. Both jobs are equally crucial to spreading a message – just in different ways.

If you have any other questions about translation or need some myths busting you can get in touch or see our FAQs for further details.

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