[Originally published on 22 January 2014]
Most people think that it’s enough to master the languages in question in order to translate. Some people even think that you only need a B1 level (according to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
I guess this belief comes from the way people learn languages: this word is equivelent to that word. So, they think that you only have to know the correct equivalence (and you can use a dictionary for it) and that’s it. Pretty simple. So, why should translations be paid?… On top of it, we now have the possiblity of using automatic translators (like Gloogle Translator) and it’s all good.
Wrong. Very wrong. Absolutely not true.
First of all, not all words have a direct equivalence. Dictionaries are a big help but they are not 100% accurate. None of them. Actually, for the same word you can get different results in different dictionaries. Words are a mean to express things and each culture have a different way to do that. Plus, there are words that mean the same but are used in different contexts (for example: pretty, beautiful, handsome). Native speakers know intuitively which word to use in each context.
Secondly, grammar is different. You can get all the words right but if they are in an incorrect sequence the whole sentence loses its meaning or its meaning changes completely, which is even worse.
Thirdly, idioms can’t be translated word by word. For those who don’t know: idioms are set of words that have a particular meaning, for example throw someone under the bus means «sacrifice a subordinate or a friend for one’s personal gain» (I took this example from the facebook page “English Idioms”). Just imagine translating that expression word by word…
Lastly, the same thing can be said in different ways. For example: clean the board in Portuguese is erase the board. If you say erase the board in England or clean the board in Portugal (using the exact equivalent which are: erase (EN) is apagar (PT) and clean (EN) is limpar (PT)) people will think you’re crazy.
So, you still think is a waste of money to pay a professional translator or that everyone can do it?
Check other articles related to translation and languages.