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Why is the translator’s specialization important?

Why is the translator’s specialization important?

No professional translator will tell you that he/she can translate everything. A true professional specializes in a specific field or several selected fields and must understand them both in their native language and in their working language. These fields could include law, medicine, economics, technology, IT, chemistry, construction, humanities, natural sciences or even narrower specializations within the given field, e.g., criminal law, medical devices, accounting, automotive industry, marketing, etc. The translator acquired the specialization either by studying and/or working in the given field, and he/she is also linguistically well equipped for it, or he/she gained experience in the field as a linguist by frequently translating texts in that area, which allowed him/her to gradually acquire the necessary knowledge of the relevant field. Either way, every translator must constantly educate themselves in their specific fields, monitor their developments and know the current and used terminology in order to do their job well. It is simply not possible for a translator to fully understand all topics. Only a translator who is familiar with his/her field can provide high quality translations. This often includes not only knowledge of terminology, but also knowledge of the relevant culture – someone specializing in law, for example, must know the legal system of the relevant country, and when translating from one language to another, they must then not only replace individual words, but look for their functional equivalents corresponding to the given system. This of course also applies to all other fields.

At Skřivánek, we therefore carefully select translators according to their specialization. Before translators begin working for us, they must undergo translation tests in their selected field(s), which are then assessed by an experienced and proven expert. We work only with those translators who receive excellent evaluations and we continue to monitor and evaluate the quality of their translations, again in the given field and particular specialization. Thus, we guarantee that our clients’ translations are handled only by true professionals.

It is therefore important not only to thoroughly analyse the text to be translated and determine which field and specialization it concerns, but also to know what purpose it will serve and who the target audience is. A text intended for the professional public, such as doctors, and a text intended for the general public, such as patients, will be translated in a different manner so that both can be well understood by the particular type of reader. That is why we always try to get as much information as possible from our clients – we ask them if they have any reference materials (e.g., websites, catalogues or marketing materials) on a given topic, if they prefer any specific terms that they use within the company or in their other texts and for what purposes the translation will be used. This will help us select the right procedures and ensure the highest possible translation quality. However, there may be situations where the client needs to translate a text precisely because he/she does not know what it is about or does not even know what source language it is in. In these cases, it is the task of the translation agency to find this out for the client and to suggest the optimal procedure.

A more complicated case is when several fields or specializations intersect in the text. This could be, for example, a work contract involving specific technical information where law and technology are mixed. In such a case, it is necessary to follow up the translation with comparative proofreading, where the translator will ideally be an expert in the main field and the proofreader an expert in the other. Or there may be a professional text that is to be used for marketing purposes, where it is necessary to focus on both professional terminology and the stylistic side, so that such a text impacts the target reader exactly as intended. In this case, it will be desirable to select an expert in the field for translation and then submit it for proofreading to a linguist who will focus on polishing the language and style. With a well-chosen workflow, we are able to guarantee the quality of the text conversion in terms of its two focuses. If such text is to be published or printed, proofreading is necessary.

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