[Originally published on 2 February 2014]
Translation is a study field like economics or chemistry. Only recently it has became so: around 1985. Nevertheless, the study of translation (and how to do it right) is as old as translation itself.
Translation is one of the basis of our globalized society. Everyone has read a book from a foreign author in their own language. Or saw a movie with subtitles / dubbed. In the press there are articles in your own language that were written by journalists from other countries. And you get to know what Heads of States around the word are saying. All that “decoding” isn’t there by magic. There are people doing that all the time: the translators and the interpreters.
In our society we are used to take everything for granted, including translation. So we generally think that everyone who knows language knows how to translate. It’s the same as saying: we hear about economics all the time in the news so anyone who knows economics can be an expert. Well, anyone who studied economics can tell you it’s not that simple…
There are different types of translation that basically are divided into 3:
- Technical translation (commercial documents, legal documents, academic papers, financial reports, environmental reports, …);
- Literary translation (novels, poems, plays, …);
- Audio-visual translation (movies, series, TV news, …).
And there are translators and interpreters. Translators deal with the written word and interpreters deal with the spoken word. For example: translators “decode” books while interpreters are the ones whispering through headphones in conferences (like the film “The Interpreter”).
Trials have been annulled because the interpreter has wrongly translated a specific word. Technical books have been misread because translation was badly done. Not to mention the huge controversy about the translation of the Bible…
We live in a multilingual, multicultural and globalized society. Good translation is paramount.
Check other articles related to translation and languages.