English translation for Canada
Canadian English Versus US English
April 8, 2020
multilingual meetings in zoom
Interpretation for Zoom Calls and Remote Meetings
April 23, 2020

Insight into the work of Professional Translators

Professional Translation Services

Last updated on April 22nd, 2020 at 11:51 am

Professional translators and thier work behind the scenes

Step into a Translation Office

What is life as a translator? What’s it like to do the work that they do, and what are some of the things they come across on a daily basis? What is critical in producing translation services? We interviewed a number of our translators, and this is what they told us.

Behind the Scenes

As is true for many professions, someone from the outside looking in may have a hard time understanding the profession or forming an accurate mental picture of it. There is much we do not see, and translation and interpretation services are great examples of this. So much effort, research, and work are done that does not show in the finished product, and even before a professional translator can translate their first piece comes education and preparation. Translation is an art, the translated content as the original piece must be conveyed flawlessly. This can be for something as simple as marketing brochure to translating a complex website or Harry Potter novels.

Translators Who Specialize

A professional translator must be well versed in their specialty or area of expertise. Most language services professionals work with a variety of subjects and industries, which is generally suitable. However, for industries such as medicine or law, you need an industry expert and we do have translators on our team that are doctors and lawyers and can provide expert translations. We also have translators who are experts in other fields such as engineering and marketing having had professional experience in the fields. For our clients, JR Language will only use industry professionals, and our network extends all over the world so we can access the best any time they are needed.

Discreet and Confidential

Professional translators must be able to deal with important information and sensitive material. Medical and legal terminology have no margin for error, government work is often classified, and they may have to translate sensitive or unpleasant topics. Translators must do so with no bias, no changes to the meaning, and no dilution of the content. Confidentiality is key, that is why every member of our team, project manager, translators, linguists has signed a confidentiality agreement.

Localization and cultural awareness in the translation

A pro translator must be culturally competent. While translators do not change the message or meaning, translated material must be understood by the reader. A pun that one culture appreciates might be nonsensical to another, or the color of a logo may be a hit in one nation and bad taste in another. Professional translators spend a lot of time studying the culture around a language, grammar, and vocabulary.

Breakdown of a Translator’s Work

Getting Started

Translators don’t just open a Word doc and start translating. For their work, translators spend a lot of time:

  • Researching the topic.
  • Researching the client’s industry.
  • Compiling materials, including references, dictionaries, glossaries, and style guide.
  • Verifying materials.

Diving into the Translation Process

After setting up the process, a language professional can now begin translating the material. While creating the translation, the translator must be aware of:

  • The target language / source language and the specific local dialect to use.
  • Audience, level of reading, and how is the translated content going to be used.
  • Some languages expand, some languages contract. For instance, German is 25-30% longer than English text, whereas Hebrew is significantly more compact than English. Consideration must be taken for space and layout in some projects.
  • Gendered language. Many Indo-European languages, from Spanish to German to Greek use gendered language, even for inanimate objects, whereas English only uses gendered language in certain circumstances, like referring to ships as “she.”
  • Differing degrees of formality. For example, Japanese has several degrees of formality, and social graces are very important in Japanese culture.
  • Contextual cues, which are deeply tied to syntax and sentence structure.
  • Social taboos, particularly ones having to do with religion, sex, orientation, ethnicity, and relationships (like in-laws).

Challenges for Translators

Like any highly skilled professional, translators encounter unique challenges along the way, like:

  • They often work with a wide arrange of subjects and may have little contextual information.
  • Balancing deadlines. Work can be assigned suddenly with rapid turnaround needed.
  • Complex subject or source text that is not well written and needs clarification.
  • The need to look for the best translation for a specific term.
  • Dealing with dialects. When translating into English, should it be North American or British? When translating into Portuguese, should it be Portuguese for Brazil? Portuguese for Portugal?

There are no languages that match each other perfectly. Translating is not a word-to-word conversion. Language is as complex as the ideas it represents, and languages grow and morph over time and some terms become obsolete and new terms are added to the language. Languages are alive and translators need to stay current.

The Best Parts

There are many benefits of being a translator that make a rewarding career:

  • Getting to know so many cultures and learning different topics and doing research to deepen knowledge and understanding to explain the subject.
  • Language services professionals may count travel as part of their work, particularly if they also interpret speech.
  • Learning more about the subjects they love, which enhances their soft and hard skills.
  • Independence and flexibility when it comes to working at their own schedule and pace.
  • Even watching tv, reading publications and following trends in the target languages can help with vocabulary, current colloquialisms, and culture.

Misconceptions About Translation Services

Professional Translators are not just people who speak more than one language. Here are some misconceptions about what translators do:

  • False: Speaking more than one language is all that is needed to make a translator. True: Just like speaking one language doesn’t make one a grammarian or linguist for that language, speaking multiple languages does not make someone a qualified translator.
  • False: Translators can work on any subject matter. True: As stated before, many translators work on a variety of subjects but at a generic level, most of the cases require industry expertise and deep understanding of the subject.
  • False: Machine translation is good enough. True: We’ve all seen funny signs because of bad translation. AI is beneficial for translators but still cannot replace the human element. In certain special projects, use machine translation for the first pass, then have a professional translator post-edit it for accuracy, meaning, construction of sentences and flow of ideas.

The Impact Professional Translators Make

Everyday translators and interpreters change history in large and small ways and have been a powerful but unseen and often unnoticed force in history. Without professional translation services:

  • Legal documents might not be accepted by courts.
  • Websites can look unprofessional and not invite repeat traffic or commerce.
  • In medicine, people could be misdiagnosed, given the wrong treatment, or might not have the complete information.
  • Human rights might be violated if governments don’t give out well-translated information to their constituents.

Trends Translators Foresee

Translators can produce a greater volume of translated material per day than ever before. Machine translation AI will continue getting “smarter” as translators continue to work with the software and build translation memory, but computers still cannot account for culture, advanced nuance, or places where there is no equivalent word or phrase. The pace at which content is uploaded to the Internet and the fact that the majority of the Internet’s users speak a language other than English and prefer to use websites in that language make translators a great necessity in global communication. As the world becomes smaller and we talk to each other more, our translation company anticipates that language services and multilingual content will only become more important in the years ahead.