Skills Needed in Translation - Beyond Bilingual
It is not enough to simply speak two languages to translate professionally. Skills needed in translation for professional translators are acquired through training. They are trained and certified to take a written document and effectively translate it into another language while keeping the tone, context, and other elements intact. It is a talent and ability that does not come simply because one speaks two languages. It may be better to think of this career as not translation, but as writing, analyzing, or even poetic interpretation. Translators may also have training in a specific area like finance, engineering, medicine, or law that enables them to translate effectively in professional language and current events.
Skills needed in translation are not simply those of exchanging words of one language for words of another. Translators must relate ideas, concepts, and tones between different languages. It is not as easily said as done. Language is tied to the context and culture of the people who speak that language. An understanding of history and culture is necessary if readers are to understand the full meaning of a written document. Clever writing may get lost in cultural references from one language to another if the translator is not aware of its use.
These concepts may be especially important in fields like advertising. The choice of words can make all the difference when it comes to advertising. Skills needed in translation are not only about language but also about technical ability. Specialization in translation will take a certain field and translate specifically for it. Law and medicine are two places where specialized translation is important. Legal documents must remain whole and retain their meaning exactly for them to be binding. Knowledge of legal terminology and laws of the cultures of both languages is necessary for effective translation.
Though translation is focused on keeping true to the original document, there may be some poetic license in translation as well. Skills needed in translation are technical but also need intelligent translators that can take the tone of a document and translate that over too. Humor is one area that may be difficult to translate over from one language to another. Cultural contexts make different things funny to different cultures. Sometimes, translators may have to find and equivalent humor through their own experience rather than translate straight across. There should be a good balance of both technical correctness and personal voice in a written document that translators must represent.
-By Adriana Tassini
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