A word on “translation” and “interpretation”

When you’re not involved in these worlds of multilingual communication, these words seem to be synonomous because they have something important in common: rendering meanings from one language to another.

What’s the difference then?

Interpreters speak. Translators write.

And that’s where it begins!

Choosing a translator or an interpreter is not as simple as opening up your ibrowser. Here are just a few of the vital basics:

The original: Provide a quality original. Many translations appear to be poor translations … only because the original is not up to standard.

Language pairs: The translator or interpreter goes from a foreign language to his/her native language. He is writing or speaking to others who understand his native language.

Competence: He/She must know the subject matter in depth. Don’t expect a generalist to translate or interpret a legal contract or a manual on using agricultural machinery.

Experience: It takes many years to provide quality at an acceptable speed. A professional translator translates about 10 full pages/day in his speciality.

Think ahead: Most reputable professionals are in high demand…and are under high pressure. Don’t expect them to be available at the last minute. Reserve their time in advance.

Proofreading: Nobody’s perfect. It’s best to plan on your own proofreader who can work with the translator.

Proofreading 2: How many people will read what’s printed? That should be a determining factor in how many proofreads are necessary. Your audience will spot ANY errors. If your document is important enough to be shared, try to get it … right! If it’s going to be distributed to 50 people, you have 50 potential error-spotting critics … How much more if you have 500, 5 000 or 50 000 potential readers??

Costs: You get what you pay for!

In this field, remember the golden rule: No guessing.

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