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  • Writer's pictureMaría Palomares Tarí


The translation and interpreting industry is wide and demanding, and usually falls victim to plenty of myths and misconceptions.

Some time ago we decided to debunk three myths about translation and interpreting, and now we are here to cover in depth three new misconceptions.

MYTH #1: You can get accurate translations online for free

FACT: Sometimes urgency leads us to use some virtual tools the Internet offers and, no doubt, they offer quick solutions to our problems. And yes, most of the time, for free. However, when we only rely on machines, the only result we can obtain will be literal translations that not always understand the intention of our message. Remember machines can’t translate context! Besides, the cost of potential mistakes can be huge. Just imagine translating instructions for medical equipment, aviation manuals or legal documents with Google Translate. Mistakes could cost lives, huge amounts of money and irreparable damage to a company’s image. Texts need to be translated with100% accuracy, and this can only be achieved with the human touch.

MYTH #2: We all speak English. We don’t need interpreters

FACT: Most often, when both parties speak (some) English, the need for interpreters is waved off. This is connected to the erroneous belief that interpreters simply speak languages which is, of course true, but speaking languages is not their only skill. When going over technical details in a meeting or negotiating the specifics in a business deal, both parties usually realize their proficiency in the common language is not sufficient. Interpreters are trained to grasp the true meaning of the speeches being delivered and to be aware of the cultural nuances and subtleties of the language. That gives both parties the opportunity to present their goals and points of view in a clear and precise manner.

MYTH #3: Translators and Interpreters do the same job

FACT: Translating and interpreting are terms that are often used interchangeable, but they are two very different activities. Yes, both require deep cultural and linguistic understanding, expert knowledge of subject matter, and the ability to communicate clearly. However, interpreters translate spoken language orally, while translators translate the written word. Interpretation is a service that happens in the moment. It is delivered live--either in unison with (simultaneous) or immediately after (consecutive) the original speech. On the other hand, translation services are text-based. Translation can happen long after the source text is created. This gives translators plenty of time to use technologies and reference materials to generate accurate, high-quality translations.

Can you think of any more myths or misconceptions about this world? Let us know!


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