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Challenges In Translation Today

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Prodialect in Translations

What is the career of a translator? A translator’s job has always been restricted to those having very special abilities. A translator needs to understand two (or more) cultures and be able to interpret one of them into the other, ideally his own. But that is not all. He also needs to be curious and know a lot more of everything than someone else, because he never knows where a job opportunity may arise.

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Nowadays the number of people trying to enter the translation world has risen exponentially. A client has many freelancers and agencies to choose from. But, how can he know which one is the best for his particular case? What guarantees him the translator or agency he contracts will do a good job? Uncertainty and lack of knowledge are two of the problems surrounding our world. Translators cannot be members of those Associations of lawyers or doctors, they have very little support. The tasks of a translator cannot be defined by articles, but by the cultures and the purpose of each one of the texts involved. The context of translation is complicated by nature. And in a world in which all kinds of imaginable translations are needed, people requiring them usually do not even know what exactly they should ask for. That is the first challenge we need to overcome. Professionals have to identify the translation needs of the client and make him understand the value of the job required and the professionals working on it.

The second challenge would be that the urgent need to reduce costs and personnel in Companies has generated the idea of using tools not only to help, but as a substitute to translation professionals. On one hand, it is true that Companies working in the same industry might share similar vocabulary, and even virtually identical texts under certain circumstances. In such cases, technology is a really useful tool in assisting a translator in his/her task. But on the other hand, the desire of cost reduction goes beyond this concept and gets people confused about the meaning behind the process.

Because of this devaluation of the process, many people think translating is a lot simpler than it actually is. In this belief, if the task can be performed by anyone speaking two languages, or even a machine, it must be cheap. This means we can get the same result spending less using the services of a bilingual person or machines instead of a real professional. Wrong. Translation goes beyond this. It is a historical career which requires special skills and resources and it is very valuable indeed. Naturally, nobody would call a robot to perform a cabinetmaking or plumbing job. In a parallel sense, translation is craftwork too. The aim of a translation is to create the same impression or reaction in an audience which does not understand the original text. Only an expert in those two cultures is able to do that. And if that is not reached, translation is failed, so even the little money invested will be lost.

It is only through information that the values of translation can be restored into society. To succeed in this world it might be necessary to prove we are the best in what we do and that what we do really is important. If we don’t believe in ourselves, who will?

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