Translators: language mediators and bridge-builders between cultures

Translators: language mediators and bridge-builders between cultures

In these times of globalisation and the increasing intertwinement of business, politics, science and culture, the importance of the translation profession is growing. As translation does not mean conveying a text from one language into the target language word for word, but rather taking account of typical linguistic and cultural patterns of communication in the target language, the translator plays an important role in overcoming language barriers. As a language mediator between people from different cultural circles, the translator therefore helps to establish economic and political ties.

Not only must the translator possess a feel for style, terminology, language rhythms and the functional elements of the original and the target language, they must also know about the culture and history of the countries concerned. Analytical skills are also required in order to understand the essence of a text and to be able to reproduce it accurately in the translation. Translators must therefore have extensive general knowledge although most of them specialise on one or more areas in the course of their career such as technical texts, medicine, legal translations or politics.

As language is not a mathematical formula and synonyms, different style options and interchangeable expressions lend it a certain flexibility, it is not possible to talk of one correct version for a translation. The translator takes the responsibility in deciding whether to stick closely to the original text or to translate more freely in favour of a more aesthetically pleasing style and choice of language. Even for specialists there is no single solution and discussion of translation criteria is ongoing.

Translations are not tied to any one medium. Audio recordings can be written down and texts can be turned into material for TV or radio. Nevertheless any particular structure specified by the client will always be respected.

The translator’s profession is a challenge: as a language mediator and bridge-builder between cultures the translator has a strenuous but at the same time exciting and responsible assignment.