It goes without saying that a translator must read, speak and write at least two languages fluently. Amazingly, Ioannis Ikonomou, Chief Translator for the European Parliament, can speak 32 different languages fluently.
However, there’s more to translation than being able to understand the source and target language.
Translating a text successfully takes many more soft skills and diverse experience than simply translating the words on a page. A translator must convert ideas and concepts between languages, impart the same style and tone as the original document and understand cultural differences in order to compose texts that readers cannot help but consume.
Keep reading to learn how a translator carries out these highly complex tasks simultaneously, as we explain how translation services work.
Converting ideas from source to target language
Many people believe that translators simply convert written text from one language into another. However, a translator’s goal is to create a text that is as close to the original as possible, despite divergences in language, cultural understanding and shared concepts.
To carry out this complex undertaking, a translator must find alternatives for jargon, slang and idioms. This is not an easy task, especially when a word or concept doesn’t have a direct translation between languages. Yes, some words are untranslatable.
An untranslatable word doesn’t have a direct translation in a certain language. Well-known examples include the German word “Schadenfreude” and the Sanskrit word “Karma”, of course, these popular words have been adopted into English dictionaries as loan words.
To compound the complexity of translating some languages are more “difficult” to translate into than others. For example, not all languages use the same formats. Thai words are not separated by spaces in the same way as English, then there are different alphabets and writing systems to take into account. For instance as an English speaker you take for granted that this sentence should be read from left to right.
Carrying across tone and style
The goal of a translator is to create a translation which allows an audience that speaks a different language to the original text to be able to read it as if it was the original. This means carrying across the style and the tone without losing meaning or the distinctive style that is the trademark of the writer.
As we explored in our article about the etymology (origins) of the word translation, the English word “translation” is comprised of two Latin words “trans” meaning “across” and “ferre” (the past participle of “latio”) meaning “to carry”. So, the word translation itself can be translated as “to carry across meaning”.
In short, rather than simply translating a text word for word, a translator must carefully ensure the meaning is carried across. Translators avoid word-for-word translations, which if you’ve ever used an automatic translation tool, you’ll know isn’t ideal!
Understand cultural nuances and zeitgeist to craft compelling narratives
Cultural understanding is one of the paramount skills that translators must possess. The expectation of one audience compared to that in a different country will vary. Therefore, translators need to understand and tap into the mindset of their audience to produce a translation that will resonate with them.
Culture plays a huge role in how a target audience interacts with the world, from their beliefs and values to their buying habits and motivations. An engaged native speaker will understand where a translation needs to be sensitive to the audience’s values, beliefs and worldview to avoid alienating them.
A native translator will also understand the development of language in the market, from evolving grammar rules, to new words gaining in popularity. A good translator will always keep a dictionary close to hand, but they will also be keeping in touch with new and trending words being added to the dictionary. Our translators are particularly passionate about language and communication in general. Translators also make use of what is known as translation memory, databases that store commonly used words and phrases in your project to save time during a translation task, improve quality and reduce costs.
Why choose Bubbles’ translation services?
Bubbles are proud to say that we have been trusted by more than 1,380 happy clients since 2003, meaning next year is our 20th anniversary.
- Over 73 million words translated – for the world’s most discerning brands including, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.
- Rated 4.8 on Trustpilot (Excellent) – read our reviews.
- Dedicated project management team.
- Wide sector experience – from biotechnology to financial services.
- Technical and sales translations – to suit your needs.
- Fast turnaround – and flexible timelines.
- Accurate, guaranteed and accredited translations – for your peace of mind.
Our translators have all the essential skills outlined in this guide. We’re so confident you’ll be fully satisfied with a Bubbles’ translation that we offer a quality assurance guarantee with every quote.
Our translators understand the cultural touchpoints of a market your business is looking to expand into, while also possessing a command of the language, grammar, tone and specialist sector experience
So, get in touch with our dedicated project managers for a quick quote and immediate response. They will discuss your requirements and timeframe with you and select the ideal translator to exceed your expectations. To learn more, explore our translation services.