When I chat with friends about the language services industry, it becomes clear that there is little mainstream knowledge about the subject. Often, my friends will make broad blanket statements about what they think they know about the industry. In hopes of disseminating some quality information on the subject, I will now debunk 5 myths about the language services industry.
Myth 1 – Translators and Interpreters are just people that speak two languages
This is probably the most prevailing myth about the industry. Some folks think that just because you can speak two languages, you are automatically qualified to become a translator or an interpreter. Those in the know, however, are aware that this is just not true.
Beyond speaking two languages, interpreters and translators are highly skilled scholars. Generally, they have a degree in linguistics followed by a number of possible certifications (CILISAT, ATIO, RID, AVLIC for example). These translators and interpreters take course upon course in order to become proficient at skills such as terminology recognition and CAT tool usage, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting skills, presentation skills, as well as a host of other applicable skills that are required of language professionals.
Myth 2 – Google Translate means the end of human translation
I’ll admit it, I often copy and paste into Google Translate to get a quick and dirty translation of an email or article that I’m reading in a different language. Google Translate has come a long way. It is more sophisticated than ever. But, with globalization and the importance of global business partnerships, Google Translate just won’t cut it. It is ultimately unreliable. It uses complex algorithms to process a source language into a target language. The results can be muddled at best. Google Translate cannot compete with the quality and certainty of a professional translator. When it comes to contracts, marketing material, and technical documents, it is still VERY unwise to use Google Translate.
Beyond all of this, Google Translate has opened the public’s eyes to the importance of multilingual communication. This has forced consumers to look at ways to incorporate language services into their business models.
Myth 3- Language Service Providers are mostly Mom & Pop shops
This is a huge misconception. Generally, if you are a full-service multilingual provider, you employ a large staff of professional project associates, admin staff, marketing and sales, as well as IT professionals in order to offer your clients a range of possible solutions. You will also work with 100s if not 1000s of language professionals in order to offer every service in multiple languages.
Able Translations and others have put together proven success models that allow their companies to grow beyond basement start-ups.
Myth 4 – Aren’t bibles really the only thing that gets translated?
How many times have I had this conversation:
Friend – So, where are you working right now?
Me – I work for a large language service provider that does interpreting and translation
Friend – Oh, like…bibles and stuff?
To be honest, I don’t know that we’ve ever translated bibles here. Maybe? We specialize in more technical documents but I think the public takes for granted that most documents are just “written” in all languages at once. Generally, they come to use with a source language and are translated from the original document into other languages while retaining the original messaging.
Well, there you have it. 4 common language services myths debunked.
Are there more? Comment below with your most commonly heard misconceptions about the language services industry.