New Year’s Insight: Six Myths About Translation

May your start to 2017 be a good one and may it be filled with exciting plans!

Does your 2017 blueprint involve becoming a credible global player in your field? Or would you like to capture a foreign speaking audience at home effectively?

You might already have a set of files stored on your computer. They would not speak to your target audience effectively, if at all, as they are: there is a language barrier to surmount. They need to be translated. Your deadline for completion is a couple of weeks away.

You try to think of all the people who speak the language of the source material as well as the one of your audience. After some thought you conclude that your Korean speaking neighbor is probably not the best route to take.

Six Myths Demystified

As translation is a growing field, so are the number of professionals in it.  Quality translators and interpreters are in high demand, especially for certain language pairs. Resources invested in thoughtfully selected language services often yield unexpected returns.

But there are some longstanding myths that might impact your decisions regarding translation services and lead to sub-optimal decision making. Here are the six most common ones, demystified.

  1. Translation is a small, specialty market. The global market for outsourced language services is worth more than 33 billion USD. The largest segment of the market is written translation, followed by on-site interpreting and software localization. The vast majority of these translation services are provided by small agencies — there are more than 26,000 of them throughout the world. These companies coordinate translation projects in multiple languages simultaneously, often involving many different file types, translators and other service providers around the world.
  2. The need for translation is decreasing over time. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 83,000 jobs for interpreters and translators by 2020 in the United States alone. This segment of the job market is expected to grow by 42 percent over this decade, significantly more than the average of 14 percent for all professions.
  3. Any person speaking two languages can be a translator or an interpreter. Most professional translators and interpreters have advanced degrees and training in either translation, linguistics, or a specialty field. Also, professional certifications are widely recognized and strongly encouraged. In the U.S., many translators are certified by the American Translators Association, and a variety of certifications exist for interpreters.
  4. Interpreters and translators are interchangeable. Translators and interpreters have very different skill sets. Translation refers to files such as documents, videos, or software, while interpreting refers to the spoken language. Translators must be good and fast at converting a word into writing in a different language, often times they are proficient with computer-assisted translation tools and terminology databases. Good interpreters on the other hand, have strong short-term memory and note-taking skills and can memorize specialized terminology for instant recall.
  5. Software translation will take over human translation. Even though translation software is highly perfected and available at a reasonable cost, a human is still necessary to use it and make the final translation accurate and seamlessly fitting the translated context. A quick online auto-translation might work for checking the meaning of a phrase or line, but for a longer document they produce confusing and partly incorrect translations.
  6. In the future, all translation will be free. Considering that the translation industry does not only rely on translators and interpreters, but also on countless other professionals such as project managers, desktop publishing professionals, engineers and IT people, and that the demand for translation is outpacing supply of skilled professionals – quality translations will always be provided at a cost. As outlined above, auto-translations are usually not an option.

Some of these myths might have come as a surprise, others not. The bottom line is that on an increasingly networked planet, the need for translation has risen with the variety of audiences that are within reach of being addressed. It’s an essential piece to our larger economic puzzle that allows players worldwide to communicate with each other.

The right language professional is out there, waiting to be matched to your needs. Whichever solution you choose, look for credentials, experience and references.

If you need further information or would like language services in any of the 100 languages we offer, feel free to contact us here.


Tell Language Solutions offers translation, subtitling and voice-over services in over 100 languages with efficient turnaround times. Our network of highly trained professionals is located around the globe, offering in-country expertise for each translated language.