5 facts about professional translation that everyone thinks are true

Translation is everywhere and a part of our daily lives. For Israeli author Etgar Keret, translators are like ninjas:”if you notice them, they’re no good”. Professional translators therefore have a tendency of being discreet in their work.
This is why the world of professional translation remains little known to the general public and is the target of many misconceptions.

We have listed here the most common false facts to re-establish the truth about the translation profession.

Being bilingual is enough to be a translator

professional translation

This is the most widely spread conception. Professional translation is either very little or not at all regulated and as a result, anyone can claim to be a translator. This poses a real problem for the profession, especially concerning the quality and rates of translation. There are many people who know both a language and a particular subject, and consequently, they believe that they are capable of translating it into their mother tongue. However, it is very difficult to deliver high quality translations without an in-depth understanding of the two languages and their cultures.

Just as knowing how to write in French does not make you a writer. It is not enough to be bilingual to be a translator. Translation is an independent profession that requires considerable versatility and skill. More and more translators hold specialised degrees in translation or are members of associations that certify their translation skills (e.g. Société Française des Traducteurs professionnels).


Translation is done word-for-word

Indeed, this is a common mistake made by amateur translators. Translating a text word-for-word is not really a translation. If the meaning of the text is not considered in the translation process, the result will be a text full of mistakes. Expressions, style and tone all differ completely from one language to another.

It is also one of the biggest setbacks of machine translation, such as Google Translate. It is impossible to obtain high quality translation with machine translation (MT) tools because it does not take into account the subtlety of a language.


Being a translator is easy

We often imagine the professional translator as a freelancer who works from home, in pyjamas, with a mug of coffee and a very flexible work schedule. The reality, though, is quite different. A great number of translators have experienced the mental anguish of spending hours on a single sentence in order to find the right word or expression that best fits the context.

To ensure a high standard of translation work, translators must go over their translations in detail several times. If we add the administrative and marketing side needed to secure new clients, a translator’s work schedule is very busy.



Translating a text is fast and free

Machine translation has made us accustomed to receive instantaneous and free translations. Despite the progress it has achieved, MTs are not comparable with the work of a professional translator. Mainly because they do not take into account the context of the translations.

Indeed, professional translation remains a work of precision. Each text first requires research and understanding in order for the translation to fit the subject matter. Achieving a good professional translation requires paying attention to a number of details.

Marketing slogans, for one, are a very illustrative example. They are often composed of several words and it can take up to several hours to translate them. For slogans, meaning is imperative and the choice of words should be carefully considered.


English translations are enough to reach a universal public

It is true that English is one of the most widespread languages in the world. But if you translate your website only into English, you risk losing many clients. Studies have shown that clients have less trust in websites if they cannot read it in their mother tongue.

According to a report by the Common Sense Advisory on the translation of websites around the world, you would have to translate your website into 14 different languages in order to be understood by 80% of the population on the planet.


As a conclusion, we can say that the world of translation is still the target of many myths. In this article, we have tried to shed some light on the general conceptions about translation.

With the growing number of international business exchange, the demand for translation services is booming. The profession of a translator is therefore increasingly more recognised and regulated.

At Eazylang, we make it our priority to work only with professional translators. All of the profiles of the registered translators are verified by us to ensure high quality level of work.


One Response to “5 facts about professional translation that everyone thinks are true

  • Thank you for this article. Truly it is an eye opener especially here in the country of Jordan, where people think that any one can be a translator. However we still have excellent translators and attention to this career has beenipaid by universities and translation centers as ours The International Science Center for Translation.

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