Translation Myths Translated for Success


Choosing the right translator for your educational and business needs can have positive or negative effects on your success. Whether applying to a college, opening new business ventures, competing in the global economy or moving your business to new levels, it is advantageous to choose a translator that can effectively and accurately convey your intended message.

Translators must be far more knowledgeable than just knowing language pairs. They must be able to communicate beyond cultural barriers and have an in-depth understanding of education and business practices in their language pairs. Translators must have experience in the cultures and languages they translate so they can communicate clearly and with precise detail for effective communication. 

Translation, being a highly competitive field, can easily fall victim to discouraging myths. Translation myths confuse customers and frustrate translators because they are frequently forced to defend their practices. Translation myths are grounded in consumer’s lack of understanding of the professions practices and standards. 

In an effort to help you choose a translator and make an informed decision the following translation myths are challenged. 


Always request a translator who translates in their native language or someone who has studied and prepared in the language. 

Fact: Do Your Research

When selecting a translator research the translation company and translator in-depth. There is nothing more important than ensuring your information is translated with the highest quality, professionalism and accuracy that you expect. Your success in other countries depends on the effectiveness of the translation. Look for companies with high ratings that conform to standards of quality and accuracy. Review customer testimonials to determine if other customers are satisfied with the translation work they received. 

While quality is important don’t overlook timeliness. The impact of not meeting deadlines for a business exchange may be detrimental to the financial outcome. Customers want quality but not at the expense of sacrificing deadlines that devastate relationships, ruin reputations and possibly prevent participation in events that may alter the timeline for months or even years. Translators must accommodate short deadlines and at the same time not forgo quality. 

Educate yourself on the Standards for Translation (ASTM F2575-06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation) published by ASTM. This publication identifies the principles required for quality, compliance, and accuracy in translation. 

Another globally accepted standard in translation is the European Standard (EN 15038-2006). This was developed by the European Committee for Standards (CEN) to ensure the provision of quality services by translation providers. The European Standard is a detailed model that includes random testing of auditing and service provision, procedures and best practices for all facets of the translation process, contractual framework guidelines, documentation guidelines including the destruction of internal documents and the requirement for proofreading by a second reader. 


Ask for samples of translation work in their native language. Good translators translate into their native language… Always ask for a native speaker…, Get a second opinion. What experience does the translator have?

Fact: Know Your Market

Choose a company that is sensitive to your target market area and can provide a translator who speaks the local language, lives in the culture and can translate the document to meet the product demands of the intended population, in relation to values and norms, customs and traditions, beliefs and religions, and rituals and artifacts. This will help your product fit into the essential marketing aspects (Language, Religion, Values and Attitudes, Education, Social Organizations, Technology and Material Culture, Law and Politics and Aesthetics) necessary for greater acceptance and use of the product. 

In regards to choosing a native speaker to translate your documents, we need to remember that our understanding may be limited to the language of the country while companies who provide translation services target the language or dialect spoken in specific regions of the target marketing area. For example, in the Philippines, more than 170 languages are spoken, two of these languages are official for the country, 10 are considered major languages and another 8 are considered co-official languages. In any particular region of the Philippines, there may be 10 or more languages spoken, which makes translation to languages of the Philippines much more complex, especially in the context of marketing. 

Translation isn’t just about converting word for word translations. It is the ability to communicate information with the same intent, meaning and style from one culture to another. The same text can be translated in multiple ways and still communicate the same information in the same style. Comparison of the same text that has been translated by different translators is not going to be the same and is not comparable to an untrained reader. The important factor is the accuracy of the message being communicated.

Selecting a good translation company is crucial because they know how people in other countries communicate with each other in a variety of contexts. Companies who follow the American or European Standards for Translation models provide their own second opinions and are held to impeccable standards through rigorous testing and monitoring. 


Only work with accredited translators/certified translators.

Fact: Accredited, Certified- What if the translator isn’t certified?

The bottom line is translators must produce documents that are faithful to the original text. This goes back to choosing a company that follows a set of standards for quality and accuracy. The U.S. does not formally certify translators; however, translators could seek accreditation in specific languages, but not all languages. This is most likely where the confusion began. 

Some companies advertise accreditation, while some advertise certified translators. Individuals also misinterpret the need for certified translation of documents to entail the use of a certified translator. A certified translation means that the translated document becomes a legal record. Certified translations are the products of professional translators who verify through a signature and notarization the accuracy of their translation. Neither the certification nor the notarization guarantees that the translation is accurate. 

According to the United Stated Department of Labor, there is currently no universal certification required for translators. The American Translator’s Association offers certification after successful completion of translation tests for individual translators, but ATA Certification is not necessary to work as a translator in the United States.


Translators can translate in more than one language. Translators can translate both ways, from one language to another and back again. Translators can translate any subject matter. Translators can work as interpreters.

Fact: Translators are highly skilled specialists

Translators are highly skilled individuals who translate in specific languages and have specialized skill sets. Translators are far more than people who speak two different languages. A professional translator has experience as a translator and has been educated in translation techniques and formal linguistics. They are people who understand the cultures of the languages they speak and people who can communicate with the understanding of figurative language in both cultures. 

Not investing in a professional translator may lead to misunderstandings that could endanger customer relationships and reflect poorly on your company. Translators have a dominant language and typically translate into their dominate language. Few translators have the ability to reverse their translations from a dominate language to another language. There are some very good translators who have the ability to translate both ways between their language pairs. 

Translators are typically skilled in a specific industry and focus on their industry or closely related industries to ensure they maintain their skills and can stay abreast of industry changes. Legal, Medical and Marketing translation is much different than educational and contract translation. It is important to choose a translator who has the skill set required to meet your needs. 

Translation services do not rely on translation software programs that overlook document context, the pragmatics of language, multiple meanings, the fluency of literature, linguistic reference and stylistic characteristics. Software programs are not able to take into account the cultural demands for successful communication. Language is every changing in a community and each culture continually develops stylistic preferences that software programs are not adept at accommodating. Professional translation services ensure that your information communicates respect. 

Just like translators, interpreters have experience in interpreting and are sensitive to cultural nuances and subtleties that are crucial for the language of diplomacy, business and courtesy. Interpreters, much like translators require cross-cultural fluency but also have an understanding of social backgrounds, traditions and customs. Interpreters typically have skills that reach beyond translation and into problem-solving skills and personalization of the message. Translators are not necessarily interpreters and sometimes are not able to make the bridge to the social requirements needed for interpreting. 

Translation services for documentation, college transcripts or personal translator services are crucial to global enterprise and education around the world. Translation services allow individuals from different countries and regions to communicate on the same level to build relationships, conduct business and accomplish successful transactions that honor their country’s standards, business practices and regulations. Translators are empowered through integrity, quality and accuracy to positively impact people across the world and further the efforts of individuals and businesses as the world’s global economy continues to expand.

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