The Art of Translation: 10 Challenges a Translator Should Know

If you think about it, there’s no easy job in the world. Every occupation that people take in their lives offers both pleasures and challenges. The amount and proportions of those, however, depend on a person and, if one manages to maintain balance, the pleasure of work overcomes the challenges, and the general picture of the occupation becomes positive. Although that doesn’t eliminate the challenges, it allows one to look at them from a brighter perspective. All of this constitutes the art of a particular occupation, and in this article, the art of being a translator will be overviewed. 

How Not to Get Lost in Translation

 Working in the language service industry can be pretty tough, there’s no secret about it. Indeed, a translator, interpreter, or localization specialist needs to possess a lot of skills that are not that easy to acquire in the first place. You can check reviews of translation companies, the number of skills the customers need sometimes does impress. Acquiring those skills might be a challenge on its own.

 As such, one must be a multitasker to process the information in different languages, which may vary in complexity, making the task even harder. In addition, a person must be communicative in order to be able to deliver the meaning of the things being said or discussed between two people or even several groups of people. Finally, a good translator or interpreter needs to have a nearly perfect memory in order to stay in touch with the language and culture.

10 Challenges Translators Face

Even if a person possesses all of those skills, challenges at work do not go away that easily. There always might be some kind of issue, ranging from technical difficulties to working with specific cases. Here are some of the most common challenges that professional translators face in their work, so if you’re thinking to start a career in this field or, as a specialist, feel stuck, you might want to check these out.

  1. Grammar, lexical, and other language structures. Some languages might be easier than others, although that depends on the perspective. Still, more complex elements of the language might get overwhelmingly hard to translate. For example, lots of phrasal verbs in English simply cannot be translated into any other language without the precision or even intention of getting lost somewhere midway.
  2. Words with multiple meanings. The English language is, again, particularly rich for such words. As such, the words like “get,” “set,” and “run” can have up to a few hundreds of meanings. Now, imagine someone working with large technical documents that contain such words in different contexts.
  3. Expressions and phrasing. Every language has its own expressions or phrasing for a particular context, none of which is easy at all. For instance, most of the proverbs in most languages just cannot be translated at all and have to be substituted with similar expressions while translating certain phrasal construction and the manners of saying can become very painful.
  4. Humorous remarks. Every language is bound to a certain culture, which develops its own habits of humor. As such, the English people are more prone to irony and sarcasm, while the Japanese are more prone to wordplay and physical humor. Such differences become a very serious challenge, especially for the interpreters.
  5. Cultural remarks. It is not just about the proverbs or phrasing constructions in a certain context. Cultural remarks, like their humorous counterparts, can relate to very specific details about the culture, like using names of pop stars as euphemisms, which, of course, cannot be translated at all.
  6. Compound words. Such languages as German or Scandinavian languages are prone to put several words together into one, confusing even the native speakers. For instance, such German words as “die Waldeinsamkeit” or “die Freundschaftsbeziehung” look pretty unreadable but only mean a “lonesome walk in the woods” and “friendship demonstration,” respectively.
  7. Missing concepts or words. Some languages contain the words for certain concepts, and some don’t. For example, the Spanish people usually take a few-hour break after dinner, which they call “siesta.” The English language doesn’t have a word for such a concept, so it simply took the word from Spanish without doing anything with it.
  8. Technical translations. Translating the day-to-day speech might be a challenge, but it’s no match when it comes to translating very specific contexts with their individual terminology. Medical, computer and other occupational translators get a pretty tough routine, although they get paid the most.
  9. Time constraints. That’s particularly relevant for freelance translators. Sometimes, the customers need their work to be done yesterday, which creates a panic situation on its own. And if a translator has other projects to complete, things just get worse.
  10. Technical issues. Sometimes, technology fails even for translators. The software won’t start, the computer overheats, or the internet connection gets lost. While this kind of issue is not that severe, it is extremely frustrating.

Turning Work into Pleasure and Into Art

While the translator’s job can be really tough at times, it can be significantly improved if approached right. And one of the first steps of facing a challenge decently is becoming fully aware of it and studying it as thoroughly as possible. Only by making enough effort and setting a great aim, one can not only achieve the higher points in their career, but also learn the art of turning the work into pleasure and, thus, living a happier and more fulfilled life.

About the Author

Michael Carr is a successful young author who pursues quite a unique goal. After a few years of writing for various resources, he realized that this is the best way to learn new things and broaden his horizons. Only by sharing his experiences with others, Michael says, a person can truly grow.

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