As the human brain developed and life became more complex, language followed suit. The coordination of complex and multifarious human activities as civilisations developed, led to the complexity of language. A language is thus filled with nuances, usages, idioms and a multitude of expressions which not only differentiate between various languages, but also give local "lingo" distinctive flavours.
Interestingly, evolutionary biologist, Mark Pagel, propounds that it is the human propensity for trading (business, in other words), the need to negotiate, that actually led to the development of language. The internet as well as the development and spread of technology have truly turned the world into a global village. Businesses, no less than art and literature, have to be able to zip across languages and cultures This has made it essential to ensure that language does not pose a barrier.
So how do we overcome the confusion that these Babel of languages could potentially cause? This is where translators and translation services
Translators will obviously need to have a skill set of at least two languages:
Their "mother tongue" or a language which a majority uses in their country of origin or residence. For example, Hindi or English in India.
The language into which the interpretation or translation is to be affected.
Good language and communication skills are no less than an art form. A good translator first needs to have a passion for languages. But a SKILLED translator needs to have the flair to pick up the nuances that breathe life into words. Both these are inborn talents which can be honed by hard work, training and experience.
Expressions, colloquialisms and idiomatic usage enliven a language; otherwise expression would be as dull as ditchwater. Good translation requires that spelling, grammar and vocabulary be perfect. But good translation sometimes cannot just be limited to being literal. The spirit of the word is as important as its written form, the semantics as relevant as synonym.
It is extremely important to remember that the translator is not the original author or speaker. A translator / interpreter must be at least bilingual and this means being equally comfortable in two languages. A translator has to also faithfully translate someone else's work. The meaning and the tone are equally important. For example, a legal document cannot be conveyed in anything but formal terms and there is no room for any other interpretation. Experienced and skilled translators are those who are capable of making the end user believe that the translated document or piece was originally written in that language.
It has to make SENSE to the receiver as it has to the communicator. When translating content, the cultural aspect of language cannot be ignored and due cognisance must be given to cultural differences if a product is being designed for multi- national use. This includes spellings, date formats, regional differences in semantics, idioms which give local flavour etc.- all of which a skilled translator will be adept at.
The cultural aspect of translation points to the importance of "localisation". Take for example a video game launched by a gaming company which offers the same product in different countries. Besides altering date and time formats, currencies and phone numbers, adapting names to suit local tastes etc., skilled translation of the written/spoken content is of paramount importance. It would also be advisable to take great care not to offend local sensibilities. Language Localisation is, thus, more intricate than mere translation.
Skilled translators need to be skilled researchers too. There may be areas unfamiliar to the translator. Rather than making an error in the intended meaning or content due to a lack of understanding, a devoted translator will do his/ her research to clarify content. A translator may be called upon to analyse alternate translations in the course of work and then determine what terminology is most suited to the context. Only devoted researching skills will do the job accurately.
All work comes with deadlines and no translator can afford to be tardy in delivering the job undertaken. Self - discipline and work schedules go a long way in smooth functioning. If there is voluminous translation to be done as with, for example, a thesis, apportioning a section of the work per day would be a practical approach in meeting commitments of time.