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  • Writer's pictureMaría Palomares Tarí


Every profession falls victim to myths and misconceptions and the work of translators and interpreters is no exception.

Let’s debunk some of them!

MYTH #1: Any bilingual or multilingual person can be a translator or an interpreter

FACT: Being a capable interpreter or translator requires far more than bilingualism, although fluency in both languages is certainly a prerequisite.

The interpreter/translator’s training is based on language structures, terminology and research. In addition, these professionals must have technical skills (master the grammatical and lexical features of the language); deep linguistic knowledge and understanding of the interpreting/translation theory; cultural sensitivity; and ethnical commitment.

Quite a lot more than just speaking two languages fluently, right?

MYTH #2: Thanks to technology, translators are not needed anymore

FACT: While it is obvious that translation technology, such as machine translation (MT), is making much progress in becoming more and more accurate, it still has a long way to go before it can correctly translate meaning. Humans are still the key to effectively translate cultural terms, colloquialisms and dialectical differences.

Combining technology with human expertise is essential to avoid getting lost in translation!

MYTH #3: A good translator or interpreter can work in any direction

FACT: Usually, professional translators and interpreters only translate or interpret into their native language. The reason is simple: they have a better grasp of it, that is, they have better knowledge of the culture and are better aware of current events, political climate and most common expressions.

It is true, however, that interpreters more often work in both directions in their language combination (e.g., from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English), particularly in bilateral meetings. In these cases, they rely on excellent cultural background and oratory skills, and keep up to date on culturally-specific references that may come up.

What other things have you heard about the work translators and interpreters do?


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