6 phrases that translators are tired of hearing

Are you a professional translator? If so, you’ve certainly already heard these six phrases. Here are six phrases that your translator friends are tired of hearing.

Are you a professional translator? If so, you’ve certainly already heard these six phrases that tend to make us roll our eyes. Not a translator? Then lets approach this from a different angle: here are six phrases that your translator friends will not be happy to hear.

1. “Translation as a profession will soon be no more!”

Thanks to automatic translation software, new apps, translation-enabled glasses, translation-enabled earpieces … The march of progress cannot be halted! But no, the job of a translator won’t disappear. Try translating a financial statement using an automatic computer translation service—you’ll be amazed at your company’s latest earnings! Translators play an essential role in translation—their job is to understand the message and then express it in the target language along with its full cultural dimension.

2. “You work from home? Living the dream!”

The perfect job: no need to wake up early, no commute, no need to ask for holidays, no having to tell friends “I gotta go; early start at work tomorrow”. Sounds wonderful—if only it were true! To practice this profession, one must be very organized, highly responsive so as not to miss an important project, and know how to set and stick to a work schedule. One must also be willing to spend entire days alone at the computer, collaborate with one or several translation agencies, and work on urgent translations at the drop of a hat. Translation work is no piece of cake! And believe me, imposing a scheduled pace on your life without the structured “to work and back” routine is far from easy.

3. “What does that song say?”

At the risk of disappointing you, we don’t always understand what song lyrics are saying. Or at least, we’re not always paying attention. Do you work 24/7? We don’t either! Sometimes we enjoy just listening to a song without thinking, “Hey, I wonder how I would say that in English?”.

4. “Can you translate this document for me? But I don’t want to take your time, so just whip up something simple.”

Sometimes people forget that professional translation is a job, and that generally we are paid for performing this service. So while we’re happy to render this service as a favor to a loved one, when you hand us your 100 page memoir, that’s a bit too much. But what about “just whip up something simple”? Translation is never really “simple”. Besides, we just can’t help not wanting to turn in a sloppy or half-baked job.

5. “Translator, interpreter, they’re both the same.”

How many times have we heard this one? Are a web designer and programmer the same because they both use the same tool—a computer? Interpreters and translators have the same tool—foreign languages—but they don’t have the same skills nor the same training. In both cases, their mission is to serve as an intermediary, to pass on a message, but not through the same channel.

6. “I did a year as an exchange student, I can be a translator.”

No, being a translator requires special training. Not just anyone can be a translator! Of course, having lived in a foreign country offers a considerable advantage, as it’s in such an environment that one becomes fully aware of the cultural aspect and can practice a foreign language in everyday life. But being a translator also means mastering your own mother tongue and being well versed in all its lexical and grammatical subtleties. Mastering a minimum of two languages is a lifelong process acquired throughout one’s personal and professional life.

How about you? Do you have any other example of phrases that rub you the wrong way?

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This article has been written by Pauline

After studying translation and communication in Paris, Pauline travelled a lot and decided to settle down in Buenos Aires to do an internship at Cultures Connection.