Business Case Studies

Should professional translation be done by natives only?

Professionals translating into their mother tongue provide better translations, because they are in their part – both linguistically and regarding the subject matter, which indicates that the client receives a first-class professional translation that resonates better with their audience. For instance, a native Dutch translator can provide accurate professional Dutch translation services.

This is not to say that a non-native translator will undoubtedly provide a poor translation. You might get back something that is quite OK. But there is a higher risk that the quality will suffer, not necessarily because the translation would contain errors, but because it may not use the best selection of words which only a native would know how to use them.

If the important thing is to convey the meaning, and style is less important, the client may end up with a few awkward sentences. But if it is a marketing document you are dealing with, you need a perfect professional translation because if something sounds weird, the text will need editing or even translating again from scratch. And that costs time and money. Not the most effective way to do things.

If you are a company agent or an individual looking for professional translation services, you will consider how to find the best translator and whether this should be a native translator. There are specific guidelines to consider when picking a translator such as fields of specialization, experience, education, location, etc. But one of the most evident aspects to consider when selecting a translator is the language. Several translation service providers emphasize that professional translation can be best done by a native translator only. Let us discover if this is true.

  • Common Practice

Firstly, selecting a native translator of the target language is a common practice. Nearly all translation agencies require working only with native translators who are the real fit for your translation requirements. It is estimated that natives have a definite feeling and are able of presenting the meaning of source text into the target language with better accuracy than non-natives. Furthermore, native translators are well aware of grammatical features of the target language and can get the right variant for translation of natural expressions, etc.

And it is hard to explain about that. Being a native Dutch translator it is easier for a translator to translate from English into Dutch than from Dutch into English.

Though, there are certain conditions when selecting a linguist, as a native translator is not the only option.

  • Native Bilinguals

People who know two languages with a reasonably high level of knowledge are called bilinguals. In several cases, people being in multicultural and multinational nations with different official languages can learn two or more languages on a native level thus growing native bilinguals. When a translator experiences and works in a bilingual atmosphere, it is quite reasonable to say that such a translator can translate texts across two languages with reasonably good quality. So if you are looking for the best translator, you may also select a native bilingual professional who can ensure the same level of translation quality.

  • Country or Language Specifics

In some cases, the translation process needs a broader understanding of the source text to communicate the meaning into the target language. For matter, if you need to translate a traditional article from Dutch into English, a native Dutch translator might be a better option even though English is not his native language. Dutch translator will have a better knowledge of the source text effects or can find more sources to provide a better translation than a person whose native language is English and who understands less about the Dutch history. Think about your subject from this point of view. Reasonably you’d better prefer a non-native translator who can understand the meaning of the original language.

  • Native Editor and Non-Native Translator

If the above is your instance, one of the choices is to hire a non-native translator and a native editor who can prepare the translated text and make it sound original for the target public. Though it may seem expensive, if you care about quality, you should think about translation in order with proofreading and editing to get the best potential results.

Though, the study showed that native speakers of the target language seldom (if they do not have substantial knowledge of the subject-area) crush the message of the source text. This can be a massive problem if the translation is for learning purposes, the translation reads quite fluently and yet the information has not been correctly carried. If the ultimate user of the translation has no support to the original text or does not have the language skills to check, significant problems can arise.

That said, the next time when you request a translation service you can make a valid choice among non-native and native translators depending on your particular needs.