The Top 5 Common Challenges of Translation

Languages and translation are some of the most exciting things that exist in human civilization as they showcase how different and similar we can be at the same time. While languages may sound differently, be used differently, structured differently, and so on, the translation is always there to equalize those differences and eliminate all language barriers that arise between two or more people. As exciting as it sounds, the job of translators is also very responsible and can be overwhelmingly challenging at times. So, if you ever considered working as a translator or making a start of your career in this field, there are a couple of challenges you may want to know. 

The Daily Struggles of Translators

 If you think about it, any job can be hard and even devastating sometimes. Those moving crates at the warehouses will share with you their hardships at work, while those who provide professional translation services will tell you about theirs. Yet, in the intellectual labor club, translators are perhaps some of those who can boast how exciting and challenging their work is at the same time.

 A big portion of fun and challenges in translation revolves around the need of the translators to be multitaskers, have a great memory, as well as be able to communicate well with other people. And that’s quite a lot for just one job if we talk about the translators only. As for the interpreters and localizers, they must also be familiar with the culture of their language and be able to transform and transmit it to another culture. Sounds challenging enough, right?

Top 5 Common Challenges of Translation

 Here are five more challenges that different language specialists must face in their work nearly every day.

  1. Differences in grammatical and other language structures. Grammar can be a pain in one’s leg while working with just one language. Now, consider working with two languages with complex grammar at the same time. It’s no wonder why Hungarian to Icelandic and vice versa translators are so rare. They either come from those countries (and the population of neither is high) or people just don’t have enough courage to learn any of those languages. Sometimes, languages can be so different that even routine phrases become pretty hard to translate with enough precision.
  2. Cultural specifics. Although our world has leaped very far from where it was just a century ago, lots of primal traditions have remained as a part of the language. They can be found in idioms, ways of saying, and other popular phrases. The problem with that is that such phrases can be so specific to one language that it becomes hard if not impossible to find a similar expression in another. This is particularly relatable to interpreters who find it painful to translating conversations for long periods of time, especially if people tend to casually talk along the way.
  3. Humor. Similar to cultural specifics, humor can be extremely particular and bound to its language. While there might be similar jokes in different languages or such jokes can be literally translated to a similar effect, in most cases, translating humorous remarks is a pain for translators and interpreters. Among this wordplay and tone are the most evident. As such, every language can create its own wordplay that simply cannot be translated to another language, while some cultures will not understand the sarcastic tone characteristic for the English language, for instance.
  4. Compound words. Germanic language specialists will certainly understand all the pain of this phrase. Scandinavian and other Germanic languages (like German, for instance) are very prominent for their love of compound words. As such, these languages can put several meanings into one word, which will be very hard to translate into another language. This is especially painful for video game localizers when they have to translate some kind of sign containing one word that can only be translated with three or more.

Homonyms and words with multiple meanings. Now, this is the greatest pain for those working with English in particular. This language is absolutely nasty for the number of meanings one single word can have. And the shorter the word is, the more meanings it can have. For instance, such words as “set,” “run,” and “go” can have hundreds of meanings, which will vary depending on the context, thus, making the work and life of a translator as hard as possible.

Still, although the work of a language specialist seems like hard candy, many still find it exciting and rejuvenating to some degree. While some think of translation work as a kind of meditation when you focus on one thing, others think that multitasking is something that stimulates their brain and drives their personal development. In any case, working as a translator, interpreter, or localization specialist is a great and very useful experience that allows you to immerse yourself in another culture and look at things from a different perspective.

About the Author

 Michael Carr is still quite you but an already respected author. Since his first publications several years ago, he managed to develop from a reporter to an educator and now sees why it’s the best choice he could make. The point is that Michael found that only by sharing his experience with others, he grows personally and professionally himself.


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