As our world becomes increasingly interconnected and interdependent, the ability for businesses and relationships to function between languages will become ever more necessary. Language translators related professions will become increasingly important, as will the need to understand exactly what they do.
A skilled translator can open a business up to millions of new customers, or help medical professionals save the life of someone on vacation in a faraway place. Knowing where and when to utilize the skills of a translator can be of immense use.
For those who were raised bilingual, or have always had a passion for language, this is also an opportunity to use your skill sets to make a considerable living.
To this end, we will take a closer look at the role of a translator and what it takes to work as one in today's world.
So just what is a language translator today?
What is a Language Translator?
A language translator is a specialist who has above average skills in communication, language comprehension, and writing. A good translator is part diplomat, part linguist, and part author.
The core of a language translator's job is to take content from one language and put it into another. A translator works through written documents.
Translators may need to spend a great deal of time on a document to match the tone and tenor of a statement because, outside of some legal papers, it is rarely as straightforward as a word for word translation. Many languages contain subtle nuances, colloquialisms, or clichés that don't translate directly.
A translator must be an expert in understanding these linguistic subtleties. This also means most types of language translators must be knowledgeable about the topic in question or do massive amounts of research quickly.
These are typical actions a translator must be able to accomplish:
- Understand the purpose and meaning of the original document.
- Investigate/assess relevant cultural and technical terminology.
- Decide and weigh the word choice for a new language.
- Recreate document formatting.
- Edit documents for accuracy and clarity.
In the end, a translator creates a piece of writing in a new language that smoothly flows and puts forward the same intention as the original work.
There are other types of language translators like medical translators or technical translators that have a much more specialized set of skills. Often these translations may be more straightforward but require a more in-depth knowledge of the field in question.
Commonly Requested Requirements for Translators:
While the legal requirements for translators are stricter in some countries than others, in the United States, it is more often beholden on the person seeking the translation to hire a translator that they deem acceptable. Hence, understanding the requirements for a professional translator in the United States is more accurately found by looking at job postings.
These are the most common requests for those seeking to hire a translator:
- Language Fluency.
- A good demonstration of written communication skills.
- Software and web proficiency.
- Attention to detail, high level of accuracy.
- Excellent ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
- Basic knowledge of topics at hand.
- Often either a relevant bachelor's degree (language, communications)... or translation certification such as one from the American Translators Association.
Why do We Need Language Translators? What is the Importance of Translation?
While a basic answer to the questions "what is the importance of translation?" or "why do we need language translators?" should be fairly evident at this point, these questions still do get asked nowadays, especially with the apps and websites that all aim to help translate or interpret foreign languages quickly and accurately. Google, a corporation of near-limitless wealth, is continuously developing their translation technology. But even with nearly unlimited resources and the greatest mind on the planet, Google translate still falls short of human translation.
Machine Translation Still Falls Very Short
As anyone who has spent significant time traveling or working between languages, you know Google Translate can be useful for fundamental communications, but it will often be comically incorrect for anything remotely complicated. This is because, as we touched on earlier, translation usually has as much to do with art as it does with science. Languages are nuanced and complex, as are our feelings and statements. We have unique phrases, sayings, and terms that encompass much more than their literal dictionary definition.
This is why very sophisticated applications like Google Translate still fall short of the mark for anything more than a simple phrase. It will be interesting to see if technology can ever fully recreate something as complex as professional translation.
So what is the role of a translator? To provide the necessary human element in conducting one language into another. As automated text language translators are still unable to compete in the realm of business marketing, or even complex conversion.
So perhaps the question shouldn't be "what is the importance of translation?" rather, we should ask, "what is the importance of human translation?" and while the answer is hard to quantify, the results are clear. Human translation, even amongst the wondrous technology of the age, is as necessary as it has ever been. In fact, with the increasing interconnectivity of our world, human translation is perhaps more critical than it has ever been.
Discerning Between The Roles of Translators and Interpreters
One of the most common mistakes for those seeking employment as language specialists, as well as those seeking to employ them, is the confusion of translation with interpretation. In reality, the roles of translators and interpreters can be quite different.
The problem arises because, in the general lexicon, the words are more or less synonymous while in the professional world, they are entirely different areas of expertise.
- Interpreters are specially trained to take spoken (oral) content and put it into another language.
- A translator is highly skilled in taking written text and putting it into another language.
From the outside these may seem incredibly similar, but that is like saying a spokesperson is the same as an author. While the language specialties often overlap, the similarities in skill sets and requirements often end there.