4 misconceptions about translators

Published on 23/07/2021

The profession of translator is an ancient one, dating back to the earliest efforts of humans to understand each other.

Although it's little known, translation requires great capacity for understanding and adaptation, diplomacy and even artistic talent. All this is needed to produce accurate translations which respect the original without distortions.

Prejudices about professional translation are very common. Here are 4 common and inaccurate preconceptions about translators.

1. Machine translation will replace translators

Machine translation will replace the profession of translators

This is the first misconception that might seem logical. Machine translation, which is constantly progressing, is certainly capable of translating everyday texts more or less correctly.

There have been enormous efforts in the field of artificial intelligence. However, no technology is yet capable of producing truly professional translations without human intervention.

Translators benefit from new computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and other powerful instruments, such as translation memories. Those tools allow them to work faster and to automate certain tasks.

But we will always need human translators who know the cultures of the source and target languages. It is important to be able to adapt content, for it to be valid in other cultures. Translators always work with specific language pairs and always translate into their native language. This way we can ensure that the translated texts are correct. 

2. Translating is a safe and always well-paid profession

Translating is a safe and always well-paid profession

Many people employed in translation are paid on a freelance and word count basis. This means that many casual workers in this field who try to produce quality translations in increasingly less time.

There is also a lot of competition for the more common languages. That's why translations in these languages are paid less than rather rare and less demanded language combinations. A few examples of these kind of languages would be English, Spanish, French, German or Italian.

According to the website statista.com, the average anual salary of a translator in the EU is 25.000 Euros.

3. Translators are able to translate in every field

Translators are able to translate in every field

Contrary to what one might assume, many translators did not necessarily study translation in the first place.

Many translators are specialised in specific fields in which they have previously been trained. For example, medicine for medical translations or law firms for official and sworn translations. It makes sense that a person who has studied advertising, will be an expert for marketing translations, etc.

The translation profession requires an even higher level of specialisation and knowledge of the relevant terminology, to provide professional language services.

4. Translating is easy work

Translating is easy work

Nothing could be further away from the truth than this statement about the translation profession. Translation work requires a lot of time. Translators have to understand the context, grasp all the linguistic nuances expressed in the originals, to achieve highest quality results.

Therefore, producing good professional translations requires a high level of experience and knowledge of both languages. This can only be achieved by working hard and reading a lot: Not as easy as it seems!

These four examples of misconceptions about translation show a somewhat less idealised reality of the translation profession. Our translation agency, AbroadLink Translations, employs people who have made translation their vocation over everything. We provide professional translation services and high quality outcomes.

A less common but true idea is that translating is a fascinating job.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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