Born to be a translator?
I cannot help but notice the smile on someone’s face when I tell them that I am a translator. Of course, I ought to be one since I have Turkish parents and grew up in Austria and can speak English. What else should I have been? A doctor? A scientist? Or even an astronaut? Oh dear, no. Someone who was practically born with two languages and who grew up learning two more thanks to an excellent education system is a de facto translator.
This is a conversation that I can never dodge when meeting new people. There are just too many people out there who assume that growing up bilingually makes one a translator. Does it?
As a qualified translator who has been surrounded by other translators for over 6 years now, I can assure you that the answer is a big NO! Translating is way more than transferring text from one language to another. There are so many factors that a translator has to be aware of during the process of translating. It is more than ‘I = ich’. One has to think of the context, the cultural references, the correct word choice, the author… And to do all that, growing up bilingually is not sufficient enough. Being a translator involves much more than knowing two or more languages. It is all about the constant development of language skills, broad general knowledge, even deeper knowledge in one or more disciplines. And that brings me back to the first part of my blog post. A translator is not just a translator or a bilingual person; a translator can also be a doctor, a scientist or even an astronaut.