What is translation?

This week, I thought I’d address the elephant in the room: what does a translator do exactly and how can one help you?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines translation as ‘the activity or process of changing the words of one language into the words in another language that have the same meaning’.[1]

However, I would argue that this is the most basic definition of what a translator does. Yes, of course, in the most basic sense, they take words in one language and put them into another language with the same meaning. But they are also proof-readers, artists and writers in their own right.

A translator is more than just someone who can speak two languages. A translator:

  • Speaks two languages fluently and understands the nuances and idioms of each language.
  • Only translates into their native language. A translator knows their limits and therefore knows that the best translations are done by those who are native in their target language.
  • Has fantastic writing skills in their target language
  • Is creative and aware of the tone, pitch and level of different types of texts. It’s no good if a translator turns a children’s story into an academic text!
  • Always proofreads their work, because we’re only human
  • Has good communication skills so they can talk to the client about any errors or ambiguities in the source text.

So, as you can see, a translator’s job is more than merely moving text from one language to another!

If you’re interested in working with a Cambridge-educated Arabic and French to English translator, contact me for a free quote. You can send me an email on verity.roat@cantab.net or via my contact page.

[1] Cambridge University Press, ‘Translation’, Cambridge Dictionary, Source: http://libraryguides.vu.edu.au/harvard/encyclopedia-dictionary

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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