Translation: Is it a Talent or a Profession?

By: Heba Abed

People may wonder whether translators are really talented or just do it for a living! Nowadays, much of the translation work is done with the help of CAT tools such as   Wordfast, TRADOS, and SDLX.  People, therefore, generally tend to believe that translation is merely the mechanical replacement of languages. But, can this be true?

What do we mean by a talented translator? Surely, a talented translator is much more than someone who translates words, as he or she must also capture the essence and spirit of the printed word or document. In fact, a talented translator must not only be proficient, and well-versed in the subject matter for translation, but must also be able to find the proper balance between delivering the meaning and beauty of the source text and a smooth flow of language in the target text.  Accordingly, not everyone who speaks a foreign language can be a translator, as is commonly and mistakenly believed.

Highly gifted translators are always keen to enhance their level of professionalism, a quality highly prized by the industry. Such enhancement can occur by broadening and deepening their knowledge of the subjects they translate, as well as by improving their writing skills. When a translator undertakes a task, it should be done in total commitment, always aiming at the highest level of perfection and ensuring that the work is free from any grammatical and spelling errors, from omissions, and is punctually submitted according to time frame designated by the client.

Key areas of focus for all professional translators are idioms and dialect, as they are not only the charm of any language, but also the challenges of translation. Relying on native speakers is one way to get at the heart of an idiom or a dialect. Another way is to keep some sort of glossary of terminology, or excellent translations of idioms and dialects, and official translations of international entities and bodies, not to mention keeping good dictionaries of idioms and phrases. A professional translator not only stores accurate information and keeps it well organized, but is also willing to share it with other translators.

We can summarize by saying that a truly talented professional translator must have a combination of the following skills and personal characteristic: a solid linguistic background, comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter, excellent writing skills both in the source and target languages, dedication to the craft, focus, responsibility, and commitment to punctuality. In fact, as writing is a translator’s main task, they must educate themselves to the many different writing styles and techniques, in addition to familiarizing themselves with the culture and social settings of both the source and target languages.

In conclusion, as translation is the key to international communication it can foster either understanding or misunderstanding. It is, therefore, important to choose talented competent translators who have extensive knowledge and solid skills, and who are capable of doing their jobs with excellence.



About indonesianurbanfamily

We are a young, Indonesian urban family who are exposed to many things in our lives. This is what we see, hear, think, feel and desire.
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