Translation and Proper English - Part 1
Proper English means grammatically correct, perfectly intelligible, and fluent English.
Broadly speaking, proper English means grammatically correct, perfectly intelligible, and fluent English, and this is what language schools and universities all over the world are teaching their students. Of course, English courses for academic purposes are designed to teach more than just conversational English – they’re designed to prepare their students for a variety of office positions in which jargon associated with a certain field of activity will be assimilated.
When you’ve learned a foreign language, that doesn’t necessarily mean you understand the entire language, which may include words, terms, and phrases that have been added to the pages of specialized dictionaries in past years. Any bilingual specialist in a certain area will know and understand their share of these words and terms and confidently be able to prove their language skills whenever necessary.
The Knowledge Base of Professional Translators
Obviously, today’s professional translator should have a good understanding of general knowledge; however, it’s not possible or even practical for translators to turn themselves into a walking dictionary, particularly when many of the words and phrases don’t belong to the commonly used vocabulary. Our human mind is not limitless and no translator is capable of producing a 100% flawless translation without doing some type of research along the way. And, it’s always advisable to look things up than to waste your valuable time groping for a specific or term.
In a translator’s everyday job, they make use of core language knowledge, such as basic vocabulary, grammar, and correct collocations; all of which should have been learned at university without any difficulty. The difficulty arises when a translator is assigned a piece of work from an unknown field, and it’s at this time that they’ll have to turn to specialized glossaries and dictionaries, in addition to trying to understand the content before they can even begin to translate it. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable and experienced a translator may be, there will always be something they’ve never tackled before and something that requires their special attention.
Experience and Practice in Translation
Most Translators will confirm that studying a foreign language in any academic environment certainly doesn’t prepare you for the real world. If you’ve decided to make a career out of translation then you may have a chance of using most of what was taught at school, but if you’ve chosen interpretation as your career then you’re going to need more conversational, or everyday language, depending on the individual’s you’re likely to be in contact with. An interpreter working with the UK Visas and Immigration won’t have the same clients as someone working for the European Parliament or a tour guide for a top travel agency; meaning that the choice of tone, register and grammar structures depend entirely on the work environment you’re in. It’s only through years and years of practice and your own malleability that you’ll have the ability to switch from one kind of language to another.