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5 Common Myths about Translation Services

Posted by Anne Q. on November 22, 2019.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the translation industry? Did you just think of translators? I bet the majority of people immediately relate the translation industry to “translators”. Then if I ask “What else do you have in mind?”, they would think for a while and give up. Well, the translation world involves so many people and positions other than linguists. It’s just one among a lot of misconceptions about the translation industry. So let’s demystify some of the most common misunderstandings about translation services.

Myth #1. Any Bilingual Person can Become a Good Translator

Many people assume that bilingual people are nature translators. They can greatly understand both languages so it’s just a piece of cake for them to translate any documents. The truth is, the ability to use two languages is just an added advantage for translators when working in the translation industry, not a golden ticket to guarantee a natural great linguist. Translation, in fact, is far beyond just translating words from one language to another. It requires a deep understanding of both languages and cultures from the translators. Just a small cultural mistake such as inappropriate colours or unsuitable expressions can lead to the boycott of the target country’s audiences.

But that’s not everything. A translator must also be an expert in a specific industry, i.e. they have insights into the field to provide the most accurate translation and they know the target audience’s needs and demands to convey attractive messages.

All these factors combined with good writing skills make a good translator.


Myth #2. Professional Translation is a Human-only Industry

It’s a common misunderstanding that translation is a “human-only” industry with no involvement in cutting-edge technology. Even if it does, advanced technology should be avoided as much as possible. Because when talking about translation technology, people only relate to machine translation such as Google Translate or Bing Translator whose accuracy is not highly appreciated. In reality, technology is applied to every translation project via the use of CAT tools – a program specifically designed for translators and linguists to improve the productivity and the quality of translations. The CAT tools store the source sentences and their translation of the previous projects so that translators will then make use of these data for future projects. From the translation agencies’ perspective, CAT tools save a great deal of translation time and guarantee the accuracy and consistency of a translation project. From the customers’ point of view, this technology application saves up some money for them since they only pay full price for new words or sentences.

CAT Tools


Myth #3. Machine Translation Gives Good Quality Outcomes

Many would say Machine translation is free-of-charge, quick, and accurate. Let’s see. We can all agree that quick and free are the two best features of machine translation. But accurate? We are not so sure. Just try translating a paragraph from a foreign language into your native language on Google Translate to see the result. Can you understand fully the translation? Does it sound natural and smooth? We guess it doesn’t. The reason is quite simple. Machine translation cannot understand the context or have the ability to convey the tone or messages from the writers. You shouldn’t count on machine translation for a high-quality outcome. (After being post-edited by a human translator, the translation can be acceptable though).

Human translators, on the other hand, are acknowledged the context, the target audiences, and the expertise to give you what you have expected. In a nutshell, only use machine translation when you only need to get the general idea of a matter.

Machine translation


Myth #4. A Translator can Translate All Types of Content

As mentioned in Myth #1, you cannot ask a translator, no matter how experienced they are to translate a random topic for your project. To create a great translation, translators should be an expert in the industry. Otherwise, you only receive a word-by-word translation, not a quality one. You shouldn’t ask a translator specializing, say, in art and music to translate your manufacturing or IT projects. Likewise, a legal translator is unlikely to have what it takes to be a good marketing translator or content creator.


Myth #5. You Only Need One Translator Throughout the Translation Process

A long experienced and professional translator can produce high-quality translations without the help of other linguists because they can edit and proofread their own translated documents. So basically, you need only one translator for the whole translating process. Well…that’s actually another common misconception of the translation industry. Translators attach too much to their translations and don’t want to make big changes on their own The project should be assigned to different linguists to make sure the editing and proofreading process is conducted objectively. Only in this way can you have a polished, clear, and accurate translation.


Infographic about 5 Common Myths about Translation Services

Common Myths About Translation Services