Jan 19

Translation: Myths and Reality

Most of us have a friend who works as a lawyer, as a doctor, as a teacher or as a shop assistant… But how many of you know a translator? The chances are obviously higher if you live in a big city but still they are not so easy to find! As a result, people tend to have wrong impressions about translators. In this post we are going to fight the three most common myths and finally establish the truth!

Myth No 1: Translators know every language and every word, so they can translate anything really fast.

The most common question that a translator is asked is “What’s the word “….” in German?”. If your answer is “I don’t know” people doubt your skills and the next question is “How can you be a translator if you don’t know the word “….” In German?”. Let’s make things clear.

Reality: Being a translator doesn’t mean that you know everything! Translators don’t know every language in the world nor every word of the languages they work on. They are not dictionaries. They are human beings who need time to process the information they are given and transform it into a different language. Just think if you know every word of your mother tongue. I suppose the answer is “no” so you can now understand that it is impossible for someone to know every single word of a foreign language.

Myth No 2: You can work at home, so this is not a real job.

Most people think that if you can translate at home means that you don’t really work. If you don’t own a translation agency it’s hard for others to believe that what you do is a real job. They actually see it as a way to get some extra money from the comfort of your home!

Reality: It’s neither a hobby nor a part-time job. Translators might have to work more than 8 hours daily (that’s usually the case). Even if they have their own office they are not there only during the hours of operation. There are no holidays or weekends for a translator!

Myth No 3: Translation services are overpriced

Another thing that people usually believe is that translation prices are too high. “Why does it cost so much? It’s only one page!”. Let us explain the reasons why translation is charged this way.

Reality: The translation process is not as easy and fast as most people think. A dictionary or even the internet are not always enough to find the desirable translation. The entire process requires a lot of time and can be extremely tiring. If you believe that the money you pay for a translation is too much try to do it yourself in order to understand how much time is required. This is probably the only way one can find out what is really happening!

Every job has its difficulties, so we should always try to learn a few things about it before jumping to conclusions. Don’t forget that translators are your representatives in other countries, so it would be good to comprehend and appreciate their job.