The FAQ series: why don’t you translate into French/German?

I’ve been an avid networker since starting my translation business in 2012. When I talk about what I do, there are a few questions that pop up time and time again. This blog post series aims to answer those questions in detail. After all, you don’t always have enough time at these kinds of events (and, being passionate about my profession, I could waffle on about what I do for hours!)
pexels-photo-28764There are two main reasons why translators don’t tend to translate from their native into their non-native language. The first is time: it would take me at least twice as long to produce a text if I translated from my native English into German or French. Why? Because words and sentence formulations don’t come as quickly to me in German or French as they do in English. When I translate into English, I can usually read the sentence in the original French or German and compose the English sentence as fast as my fingers can type (once I’ve done the required research and with a proofreading stage later, of course). This process would be much longer and more laborious the other way around, and would be quite a strain on my brain! As a consequence, my services would also be more expensive as I factor time into the way I price projects. So translating into my native language is faster than translating into my non-native language and thus less expensive for my clients.
letter-761653_960_720The second reason is style: a translation should not stand out as a translation; the reader should not (usually) be aware that this text exists in other languages and is based on another text. It should be easy to read, “blend in with its environment” and act as a stand-alone text. Clients usually need their translator to be a native speaker of the translation’s language to achieve this effect. If I translated into German or French, it is possible that I would make non-native speaker mistakes, be it with sentence structure, words not being used in the correct context or evoking the dreaded we-just-don’t-say-it-that-way reaction that every multilingual person will encounter at some stage. Ultimately, translation clients want a stylish text, so they need their translator to translate into their native language, not out of it.
So there you have it. Are you a translator and have something to add? Are you a (potential) translation client and want to ask a question about the translation process? Leave a post in the comments or send me a message via the contact page!
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