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Common myths on translation

  • To translate, all you need is a good dictionary.‘ = FALSE

Translation is a profession. If a good dictionary were enough, bad translations would not be so common. (Think of all those incomprehensible instruction manuals or amusing hotel notices!)

  • Good translators don’t need dictionaries or reference documents. They just translate.‘ = FALSE

Research is an essential part of translation. Translators need to analyse and take a critical look at sources of information and terms in glossaries.

  • My trilingual secretary can do all my translations.‘ = FALSE

Although a few people can work into more than one target language, as a rule translators specialise in one direction only. Passive and active command of a language are not the same. Furthermore, a literary translator is not necessarily able to translate a legal contract, while a translator of management textbooks is not the obvious choice for medical literature.

  • Translators will soon be replaced by computers.‘ = FALSE

Some machine translations are very good, but computers will never translate as well as humans because the nuances and subtlety of human language are still beyond the grasp of artificial intelligence. But the increasingly powerful computer applications on the market today are a great help to translators.

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