Translators are experts for several languages. However, every translator has only one best language – mostly his mother tongue. This is the language he uses most of the time; this is the language that is usually spoken in his home country, and despite the fact that he has received good education for his other languages and has a very good command of them, his mother tongue will always be unmatched. His other languages remain foreign languages.
This is the usual case. However, the mother tongue of a translator is not always bound to his home country. For example, a translator who was born in Germany, but moved to the USA a long time ago and since then has been primarily speaking English may experience a “mother tongue switch”. His foreign language becomes his new mother tongue. The bottom line is that the mother tongue is the language at which the translator feels the most comfortable.
Many professional translators, us included, think that translators should only translate into their mother tongue to ensure best translation quality.
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Of course, there are many translators who offer translations from their foreign language into their mother tongue and vice versa. However, you should try to find a translator whose mother tongue is equal to the language you want your text to be translated to.
You wouldn’t ask your plumber to repair your car, just because both have something to do with technology. You neither should ask a translator specializing in law to translate your video game or technical app. Every professional translator specializes in one or more fields. The omniscient translator is a myth. Of course, I could translate your working contract. However, I would require much more time for the translation than a translator who specializes in law. And as we all know: time is money – your Money.
Furthermore, a translator who specializes in a different field cannot reach the quality of a specialist. He lacks the knowledge of the correct terminology and could misunderstand the content of the specialized source text. Do not take any risk here. Always look for a translator who has experience in your required field. After all, you do not want to explain to your translator what a string is.
Last week I introduced you to non-professional translators. They have never received an education as translator and therefore do not have any certificate whatsoever to prove their qualifications.
The problem is that “translator” is not a protected job title. everybody who speaks multiple languages, could just call himself a translator. Of course, there is more to it than just speaking some languages. There is grammar to perfect, lots and lots of terminology and translation techniques to be learned, special knowledge in a working field to be obtained (e.g., apps and video games). Furthermore, a very good understanding of cultural differences is absolutely necessary. People are studying this for several years for a reason.
When searching for a suitable translator, I highly recommend you to ignore translators without actual degrees and start searching for state-certified translators, graduate translators, translators (BA) etc. – so basically any actual job title indicating their qualifications.