Today (30th September) is International Translation Day, which is celebrated on the feast day of Saint Jerome. He is recognised as the patron saint of translators, scholars, editors, libraries and librarians and, as a provider of professional translation services, Lingua Translations recognises the importance of the occasion!

The day is marked by numerous professional organisations, such the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in the UK, and the International Federation of Translators (FIT), which has promoted the day since its inception in 1953, and was the main reason why the day is now both official and international.

To mark the occasion, I thought it would be topical to look at some of the many misconceptions that people have about professional translation services. I’m sure we have all been in a situation where someone has asked an ill-informed question or made an erroneous comment about our industry. It is our duty not to get annoyed (which, admittedly, I sometimes do!), but to educate our clients and even families, friends and neighbours. The language service industry will never be recognised as the complex and essential thing that it is unless we prove it as such.

So, let’s have a look at just some of the unfortunate misconceptions about what we do as linguists:

1. “Isn’t translation the same thing as interpreting?” – I can’t count the number of times someone has asked or assumed this. As we know, a translator deals with the written word, whereas an interpreter is occupied with speech. This work can sometimes cross over, as in the cases of voiceovers and sight translation, but these are relatively uncommon occurrences.

2. “My team of 20 people took two months to create that marketing copy, so can you translate it in 24 hours?” – The expectations of clients are sometimes somewhat misguided when it comes to timescales. It is our job to make them understand that, if they want a translation that looks and sounds just as good as the original, the translator will need an appropriate amount of time.

3. “You speak French, so of course you can understand the technical manual/art history essay/medical report we need translating.” – Here at Lingua Translations, this provides us with particular frustration. We only work the very best translators who have at least 5 years’ experience in the industry and, in the case of specialist translation, we will only use a translator that is matched to the task and has extensive experience in that field. This ensures the best quality professional translation services with correct and consistent use of terminology.

So, Happy Translation Day, readers! We hope you use the opportunity to promote the understanding and recognition of our industry as the vital business tool it is in this, our increasingly global community. Please visit our website for more information about our professional translation services.