Misconceptions About Translation

Common myths regarding translation needs

As with most industries, there are many myths surrounding translations and how it can be successfully used to deliver for businesses.  In this post, we cover several topics we hear often in our industry.  We hope you enjoy reading this and we encourage you to contact us if we can be of further service.

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I can just use Angie, she speaks that other language!

Being multi-lingual and doing the work of a professional translator are not equivalent. The process of becoming a professional translator is very similar to the process of becoming a professional in any field. It takes education, training, and certification. One of the most-recognized certifications in the USA is offered by the American Translators Association (ATA). To become certified, a candidate must meet education and work experience requirements and pass a rigorous exam. Because of the nuances inherent in every language – and within variations or dialects of a language – a professional translator is your best bet. They are trained in the specific language and the industry or subject matter domain to provide contextually-accurate translations.

I need a translator for my clients at a Vegas trade show.

Translation and interpreting are two different things. Translation is written and unidirectional (from a source language into a target language), and interpretation is verbal and can be unidirectional or bidirectional (back and forth between two languages), depending on the requirements. Interpreting typically takes place in person, via phone or online video. Interpreting sometimes requires the interpreter to travel to a specific location—such as a trade show in Vegas.

Online (automated) translation is good enough, right?

Wrong! Paperless world, flying cars, machine translation… see the pattern? Yes, we have had advances in automated translation tools, and in rare cases, they may be good enough. However, if you need an accurate translation that will convey exactly what you want to your clients and target audiences, then you should NOT rely on machine translation. Machine translators frequently result in erroneous gender and verb tense associations. They often do not consider the surrounding context when translating. At best, the resulting translation is faithful to the original text but lacks fluidity, style and context. At worst, they introduce errors which can be hazardous and even life-threatening depending on your subject matter (e.g. Medical Services). A machine is still very lacking when considering localization, targeting a specific location, and industry-relevance requirements. There are thousands of languages, and each one is a complex, variable phenomenon. No language can be effectively represented by an algorithm or mathematical equation, not until we have at least mastered flying cars!

I need this 500-page manual translated by Monday!

Obtaining a quality translation requires the use of a professional translator with relevant understanding in the target industry. Translating corporate documents, training manuals, or any other specialized content generally requires a project plan and adherence to project methodology. By design, this requires time and specialized skills. The process may consist of several phases, including estimation, team assignment, translation, proofing and other quality checkpoints. The greater the complexity of the document, the more time it will take to ensure that the proper steps are taken to produce a quality product. Ultimately, the decision to cut corners to save time or costs will result in sloppy work that damages credibility with your clients. To ensure a quality product, use professional translators that adhere to the steps outlined above.



You have questions – translation costs? Translate my document to other languages? How do I hire and work with a translation agency? I need translation services…


We have answers!
Foreign Translations is a professional translation services company serving clients nationwide since 1998. The company specializes in language solutions in the fields of document translation, localization services, desktop publishing and much more! Using advanced software and top-notch human linguistic experts around the world, FT enables their clients to affordably reach target audiences in the languages and channels necessary for success.   Contact FT today.


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