The Most Prevalent Translation Myths

May 9th, 2015

We have often debunked translation myth in these articles – today we go through some of the most common misconceptions about translation.

The Most Prevalent Translation Myths | One Hour Translation

Translation would have to be one of the most misunderstood and under recognized professions in the world, don’t you think? Though I am sure many professionals from other niches would make the same complaint. I know a land surveyor who spent four years studying at University and then another several years doing his practical training and becoming qualified, only to have many people dismiss his qualifications as those obtained at night school or over a week-long course.

We’ve scoured the Internet (plus recalled some of the most frustrating conversations we’ve had with non-translators over the years) to come up with this list of the most prevalent translation myths that still exist.

Myth: anyone who speaks a foreign language is already qualified to be a translator.

Myth: anyone who was raised in a bilingual household already has the necessary skills to work as a translator.

Myth: technological advances mean that human translators are no longer needed, and can easily be replaced by modern translation tools.

Myth: translators can translate text at the same speed that they can type.

Myth: most people in the world can read English, so there is no need to translate a website or marketing material into other languages.

Myth: anyone with access to the Internet and a good dual language dictionary can produce their own translation.

Myth: there is only one possible translation for every text.

Myth: translators become qualified by memorising dual language dictionaries.

Myth: translators don’t need to be good writers – as long as the original text is good, the translator can just put the same text into another language.

Myth: culture has nothing to do with translation – you simply need to move the words from one language to another.

Myth: there is no need to hire a professional – anyone who can speak two languages can do the job.

Myth: translation is all about words – exchanging words in one language to their equivalent in another language.

Myth: translators are old school and resist new technology. They much prefer to pour over a dusty old book than to do a quick Google search.


Translators – how many of these myths have you been presented with? For most people, these myths and misconceptions form the basis of most ill-informed comments made by people once they find out you do.

The takeaway is to recognise that all translators are met with these kinds of ill perceived questions from people who simply don’t understand our profession. Take heart in knowing that you are part of a community of translators who know what everyone else is going through!

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