Translations Gone Wrong

Image retrieved from

So many people think that when you are bilingual and are proficient in both languages, for example, French and English, that you have everything you need to become a successful translator.  Unfortunately, this is not quite true.  It takes more than “knowing” both how to read, write and speak in two languages to become a good translator.  A professional translator will take into consideration many different factors in regard to the source language as well as the target language.  The most important factors are, without a doubt, the language’s syntax, terminology as well as idioms.  In order to be understood clearly by the people of a different culture, region and country, the translator must adapt the translation to deliver a more “localized” translation.  Localization is one of the most difficult, and yet, the most important part of a professional translation no matter the genre or the format of the translation.

One common mistake that is being omitted by many translators is that they are not asking enough questions concerning the content that must be translated.  It is imperative that the translator fully understand the content that must be translated before even knowing where the translation will be delivered.  It does not necessarily mean that the translator must know all the elements of the message but understanding the what, when, where, who and how that will be transmitted to the readers.  Effective communication must be present between the requester and the translator.

A message that is being translated word by word becomes a robotic message that may not even be close to the original message.  For example, the order of the subject, the verb and the complement are very often placed in a different order depending on the target language.  Very often, the translators will change the order without considering if the expressions or idioms in the translated message are correct.  The way the sentences are constructed, the agreement between the verb and the subject and the gender may be totally different or nonexistent from one language to another.

Of course, the choice of words and expressions must be verified before being used in a translation.  This explains the time that is required to research the terms that are specific to an environment, a culture, a region and a country.  The tone and the style of the original message must be kept once the message is translated.  For example, punctuation may differ from one language to another giving the translated message a totally different meaning. 

The translator must also stay current with the trends and the technology that changes rapidly.  The addition of new words and expressions in a language is something that the translator must keep in mind and research in order to be up to date as much as possible.  It is inevitable these days for a translator to encounter terms that are being used in specific environments, more particularly, in applications that are part of a more “global” vocabulary such as blogging, chatting and vlogging.  In my opinion, a “good” translator must be as versatile as well as professional and dedicated!        


cbtranslateday.  (February 27, 2018).  Common Translation Mistakes.  Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.