The Technical Aspects of Translation Services will be posted every Wednesday, detailing the difficulties of translation, the impact of the evolution of languages on translation services, and the necessary qualifications to make a successful translator.
When in a situation where you need a translator, whether it’s for personal or business needs, often the first reaction is to look for a friend or colleague fluent in that language to help. This is the natural first step, using a friend with native or near-native fluency in a language appears reasonable and may offer accurate translations in a timely manner. However, being a translator requires more than fluency in both languages and revolves around a complete understanding of the target dialect, intended tone, grammar, and, in some cases, the requisite certifications.
A translator must have a comprehensive understanding of the dialect they are targeting their translation to. For example, when translating French to English, the translator must know where his work will be read. As mentioned in the previous blog posts, English uses a variety of grammatical structures and diction depending on the location of the client’s customer. In this case, the translator must be conscientious of the fact their work will be read in the UK or the US.
Another aspect of translation is matching the intended tone of the author. One common mistake of amateur translations is their inability to emulate a professional intonation, as they are most likely fluent solely in the conversational usage of the target language. This can lead to your colleague’s translations using inappropriate stylistic choices that can make your firm appear unprofessional. Another commonality, especially among first-generation Americans attempting to translate documents, is the fact that your colleague may be completely fluent in spoken Arabic, yet lack the necessary literacy and written skills for accurate translations.
In other situations, especially when translating legal documents, courts may require the translator to be ATA (American Translators Association) certified for their translations to be admissible. Certifications such as these work to ensure translators are well-equipped to accurately translate the necessary technical legal terms and to eliminate the language barrier between both parties. This is not limited to the legal field with hospitals often requiring certified translators, as mentioned in previous blogs.
While in some instances, certifications are required for a translator’s work to be admissible, in others, certifications work as a way of ensuring the requisite fluency to provide accurate translations and provide you with the greatest likelihood of success. All in all, it may be easier and more cost efficient to use a non-certified translator that you personally know, but using professional and certified translators is the only way to guarantee accurate translations that reflect the intonation that you intend.