Talking Like a Native - Why Textbook Language Isn’t Enough for Translators.

Being a translator requires a more intimate knowledge of a language than it is possible to get from a textbook or service like Google Translate. Fluent translation includes idioms, patterns of speech and conversational phrases that will be recognised and used by native speakers but don’t necessarily fall into traditional language rules.

Thinking in Tongues

Understanding and becoming fluent in a language requires:

  • Listening: the input of the language

  • Understanding: processing the language

  • Speaking: the output of the language

Just understanding the language well enough to converse isn’t enough for translators, they also need to learn to think in that language. When trying to speak or write in another language, thinking in your native tongue and then translating it into the target language takes time and can be less precise.

Translators and those who are considered bilingual can think fluently in more than one language. Learning to think and speak just a few of your most commonly used words and phrases in another language, is the easiest place to build from when learning a new language. This is a system which translators often begin with.

Living the Language

While textbook learning and relying on online translation services can be somewhat effective, conversational language requires much faster processing and a level of comfort that you will not find in a textbook or audio file.

Textbooks tend to have a heavy focus on grammar, which isn’t as important for conversations, as these rules are often ignored when speaking.

Translation is a labour of love, so loving the country it comes from is just as important to translators as loving the language. They probably live in the country (or visit regularly), have friends and family there that they speak to exclusively in their target language and read books in the language. All of this makes it second nature to understand and translate from one language to another.

Why use Professional Translation Services?

A professional translator offers so much more than a simple translation online. Translators are skilled in linguistics and can convey messages professionally. Some will have training with legal and ethical translations which are critical for certain industries, whilst being able to put together a document that makes sense for both parties, regardless of the language barrier.

On top of this, translators are often more knowledgeable in specifics of language rules and cultural differences that help businesses and individuals to make the best possible first impression on their target audience.

Whilst a textbook or online translation search might help you with the basics of translating a document or writing a letter, a translator offers an overall more efficient, professional and effective way to communicate with others.

Throughout the Talking Heads website, we have lots more information on how we can help you get the best translation possible, whatever your target happens to be. Read more about our case studies here to see how we have helped many people just like you. If you want to call or email us direct, then contact us now.

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