What a better way to get this blog’s ball rolling than with some information about the most common translation misconceptions and myths. Translation is nothing new: people have been translating languages pretty much since language was invented. However, it still feels like the profession in itself still has some way to go before it can get the respect and understanding that other, more established, ones are lucky enough to enjoy.

The Translation Process Is Complex

Together with misinformation come accidental misconceptions. A very common one is related to the translation process. Most reliable translation projects have a translation, an editing and a proofreading stage. When you pay for a document to be translated, you are paying for all those processes. This is also the case for the time a translation project needs before it can be finished. If you rush it, one of those stages is not going to be carried out properly, and that generally reflects on the end text.

Large Translation Agencies Are Not Always a Safe Bet

Another one of the misconceptions is related to a very common customer perspective: “I don’t really know how this translation thing works, so I’ll pick the largest company there is on offer, mainly based on how good their webpage looks”. Well, translation tends to be all about attention to detail and specialisation. Sometimes you can get a much better job if you work with a smaller company or an individual freelancer whom you can talk to, explain what you need and maintain a conversation on a more personal level. And if you need any translations in the future, coming back to that same translator rather than a different one within a gigantic translation agency makes the process simpler and, generally, more successful.

Bilingual Friends or Employees Are Not Translators

People who do not understand how technical language can be might commit the mistake of thinking: “I know someone who can speak that language! I’ll give that person the translations and I’m sure they’ll give me some helpful feedback”. However, there are few people who have a deep understanding of the language they speak. The feedback you get by doing this might be off point, might be incorrect and might be misleading. Translation is a profession, with everything it entails.

The Quality of the Source Text Affects the Translation

Finally, we get to my personal favourite: thinking the quality of the source doesn’t impact the quality of the target. If the source text is impossible to understand, how could the target be intelligible? Translators will do their best to understand the text they have to translate, and might even try to ask the client for help. However, a poor source with spelling mistakes, incorrect use of punctuation and run-on sentences will complicate the entire process.

Measuring the quality of your translation can be tricky. Ultimately, you can only judge the consequences that translation has: do you have more customers now that you got your website translated into a foreign language? That is a good sign.

About the Author Agustina Marianacci

I’ve been actively studying the English language since the age of 5, when my mother decided that speaking English would be an asset for me in the future. I don’t think she anticipated how much of an asset and what an enormous part of my life it would turn into. I’m now a full time English-Spanish translator, editor and interpreter living in Wellington, New Zealand, blogging about languages, this beautiful profession and other such things at translationswitham.com.

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