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10 Common Misconceptions About Translation

Christopher Nguyen
Christopher Nguyen
Posted in Zoom Nov 19 · 20 Nov, 2023
10 Common Misconceptions About Translation

Translation is an art, a science, and a professional field worth its weight in gold. It is, however, very misunderstood, seeing how commonplace translation myths are. Let's correct that by shedding light on the ins and outs of this field.

10 Common Misconceptions About Translation

There are several misconceptions about translation that often lead to a misunderstanding of the craft. Some of the common language translation myths include:

· Translators and interpreters are the same thing.

While translators convert written text from a source language into a target language, interpreters transform verbal or signed language.

· All qualified translators and interpreters do any type of language work.

Translators specialize in written communication, whereas interpreters specialize in verbal communication.

· Linguists must be native speakers of a language.

Being a native speaker doesn't necessarily mean having the skills to be a linguist. In truth, linguists are specially trained professionals and don't need to be natives of the languages they specialize in.

· Being bilingual qualifies someone as a translator.

When choosing translation as a profession, an individual invests time in training, acquiring experience, and honing their skills. Being bilingual alone does not cut it.

· Translation is a simple word-by-word rendering of text.

There's more to translation than most people realize. There are cultural differences and diverse ways of expressing and saying things across languages, and a translator has to consider these nuances in their output.

· Translation is easy. 

Is it, really? Translation is a complex and multifaceted endeavor, yet always characterized by the same clear mission: to facilitate seamless communication across different languages.

· It doesn't take much to be a professional translator.

Ask any pro in the field, and they'll agree that professional translation is both an art and a science. It requires creativity and a deep understanding of the languages and cultures involved. It's not just about translating words but also about conveying the essence and intent of the original message.

· Fluency in two languages makes one a translator.

In truth, being a translator is more than just being bilingual. The craft requires a set of skills beyond fluency, such as translation training, skills and techniques, reading and comprehension aptitudes, and cultural knowledge in both source and target languages.

· The meaning of a text is similar regardless of language.

Culture ties closely with language and, for that reason, plays a crucial role in the translation process. Successful translation entails a profound understanding of the cultural context of the text, which, in turn, leads to the successful transmission of the intended meaning.

· Machines are better translators than humans.

Over time, technology has significantly influenced the translation process. It has made translation work easier and more effective while providing access to a greater variety of digital resources, faster customer service, and reduced research time. While machine translation has improved tremendously in the last decade, no one can disregard that humans simply do a better job.


Translation is a field that weaves language, culture, and technology together. It is an art and a science, demanding complex skills. As technology evolves, so does the role of the translator, but their skillset, command of language, and understanding of cultural contexts remain a significant part of the matrix.