Person A: So, you are a pianist?
Person B: No, what makes you think that?
Person A: Well, you have two hands.
Knowing two languages, even on a native speaker’s level does not make them a translator. Translation is a skill that goes far beyond. Besides great writing skills, a translator also needs to have the ability to transfer the meaning from one language accurately into the other while sounding natural and following the norms and conventions of the target language. This includes spelling, sentence structure, punctuation and idiomatic expressions.
While a degree can be of tremendous help for those aspiring to become a translator, practice is key. Practice and feedback. To some, translation comes naturally. Some require a steep learning curve. But all need to get a lot of practice to hone and polish their skills. Practice in translation and writing that is. In fact, some even claim that the skill of translation comes as a hereditary feature to some lucky ones who were chosen by nature to take on the task of communicating across language borders and cultural differences.
As I am currently employed full-time as an examiner trainer for NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters), my practice mainly lies in volunteering as a German subtitler for TED and a German translator and reviewer for National Geographic.
Working as an examiner trainer for NAATI gives me the opportunity to not only discuss language standards and complexities across 20+ languages, I am also gaining a deeper understanding of the industry’s importance, and the challenges and requirements for practicing translators. It also strengthens my own English into German translation and revision competency.