For the uninitiated, on the face of it, translating a document from one language to another is an easy exercise. However, it is not as trivial as it may seem. If you are a native speaker of any language, you may not necessarily have learned about sentence structure and grammar. The ability to translate documents is almost an art form and you must at least understand the basics of your own language and its elements if you are to do a quality translation.
Grammar, tenses, spelling and vocabulary are all parts of any language. Some languages are more complicated than others. Spanish, for example, has sixteen tenses, many of them based on the subjunctive. It is not possible to translate into one tense! Interpretation is the art of translating the spoken word and it may not be so important if the interpreter makes the odd slip of the tongue and not use the correct tense as the gist of the conversation should make it clear what is meant.
Document translation can be on any subject. Arts, science, politics, economics, business – if you are working in two languages, there will be documents which require translation. The source language is the language you will be translating from and the target language the language you are translating to. Translators should generally translate from their native tongue into the target language. There are nuances and dialects in all languages and it is a false economy to try to get cheap document translation.
Contracting in a qualified translator is highly recommended, and the more critical the translation is, the more important it is to get a properly qualified person. For example, for medical texts or those pertaining to life dependent products such as safety systems, it is of paramount importance to get a translation which is correct in every detail. In such situations, the translator should not only know the language, but also the technicalities of the subject he or she is translating. A thorough knowledge of vocabulary pertaining to the subject should be the main criteria when selecting a suitable translator. Even when a novel is being translated, it is important to capture the essence of the book and ensure that the meanings are maintained, if not literally translated. Literal translation is not always ideal either and can make the output document seem stilted and the text may not flow.
Selecting a translator is no mean feat either. Many people who speak other languages cannot necessarily read and write it. Some people just learn enough of a second language to be able to converse and may be able to offer a cheap document translation but it will not be of any quality if the translator has not studied the intricacies of language structure or the subject he or she is translating. A good translator will continually read texts in the target language and keep up to date with changes in trends and new words added to dictionaries. This is how languages develop and evolve.