Last updated on May 18th, 2021 at 06:16 pm
Every year, on September 30th, we celebrate and recognize our translators on International Translation Day!
Our congratulations to our hard working translators that are a fundamental force in JR Language to help our clients communicate and do business around the world.
Every day, our admiration goes to our team of translators for their dedication, experience, knowledge and high level of preparation. During this week of celebration, I would like to emphasize the importance of the translators’ skill set, which includes not only essential language proficiency and skills, but also subject matter expertise in the area or industry that they work for. Industry expertise is as fundamental as language expertise, since a legal translator requires a different vocabulary and knowledge than a medical translator or a financial translator. These crucial skills sets do not take shape overnight, but over years!
Language capability and subject matter expertise go together, side by side, and if both are not present then the goal of high quality translation is not possible.
Last year, we attended the Globalization and Localization Conference in Turkey. During that fantastic visit, my husband and I decided to do some tourism outside Istanbul. Because the Turkish language is one we are not familiar with, we hired tour guides to provide us guided tours in English during our trips to Capadoccia and Ephesus. Just like translators, these Tour guides were interpreters and translators of the Turkish language to us (their audience) in English. They were hired to bridge the language barrier and assist us in learning about the culture and the places we visited.
Although we paid a well-known travel agency for the service, our experience was very frustrating.
Our first visit was to Capadoccia. Our tour guide for that visit was completely bilingual and her command of the English and Turkish language was outstanding, so it was very easy to communicate with her, but we were surprised to find that her knowledge of Capadoccia and its history was very limited. The delivery of the translation was flawless, but the content was weak, since she had no in depth knowledge in the subject and she was not able to answer many of our questions about Capadoccia. She didn’t know enough about the history and all the events that had pushed people to live in caves underground for years! In fact, we noticed contradictions in her statements, and just by searching on the internet we were able to find better history facts than what she gave us.
This experience compelled us to buy books about Cappadocia, and what a surprise! We found versions in multiple languages- English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, you name it! Since Cappadocia is a very touristic location in Turkey, and Turkey is linked to trade and commerce, the lesson was clearly learned early on: you have to speak your customer’s language in order to sell.
Our second visit was to Ephesus, a magical place full of ruins with mythological and religious past. Full of history and art as well! This time, the guide was an expert in Ephesus and its history, but her command of the English language was weak. Half of all the information got lost in translation! Sometimes, it was very difficult to understand her. Her grammatical constructions were often incorrect and her accent made it even harder to understand.
We left those 2 enchanting places with a lot of informational gaps. In both cases, the information and the communication process was handicapped by a lack of expertise. At Capadoccia, the subject matter expertise was not present, and at Ephesus the language component was missing.
Our travel experience is a perfect example of how bilingual tour guides must possess the skills for translation and interpretation, subject matter expertise and language proficiency- together!
Translators must not only be an expert in both languages involved, they also need to be experienced in the subject matter, and have to have years of experience and research under their belt. Patience and attention to detail are also important elements in the art of translation. Happy Translators day! Our Hats Off to the professional translators and interpreters of the world!