A translator is someone who converts the written word from one language to another. An interpreter on the other hand, is someone who translates orally or through sign language interpretation. Although translators typically need a bachelor’s degree, the most important requirement is that they be fluent in English and at least one other language. Many complete job-specific training programs.
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Translators typically do the following:
Translators aid communication by converting information from one language into another. The goal of a translator is to have people read the translation as if it were the original. To do that, the translator must be able to write sentences that flow as well as the original, while keeping ideas and facts from the original source accurate. They must consider any cultural references, including slang, and other expressions that do not translate literally.
Translators must read the original language fluently but may not need to speak it fluently. They usually translate only into their native language. Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and translators receive and submit most assignments electronically. Translations often go through several revisions before becoming final. Translating services are needed in many different subject areas. Although these workers often do not specialize in any particular field or industry, many focus on one area of expertise.
Translators typically work from home. They receive and submit their work electronically. They must sometimes deal with the pressure of deadlines and tight schedules. Because many translators are self-employed, their schedules often vary, with alternating periods of limited work and periods of long, irregular hours. Still, most work full time during regular business hours.
For translators to best achieve their task, they ought to have some particular qualities.
Sarah Lindholm talks a little bit about the skills needed and how to go about getting them.
A Q&A with translator Mark Heaney.
A detailed account of a day's work for a translator and interpreter.