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The differences between a translator and a bilingual

Have you ever met a bilingual that says that translation can be done just for knowing the language? Have you ever been asked to translate a file just by speaking a certain language or being native of that language? If you are a translator or interpreter, you surely know someone that affirms he/she can translate a document just for being native. But being bilingual does not ensure that he/she can translate, so in the following article we will share with you the differences between being bilingual and being a translator.


Translator’s characteristics

A translator works with written texts that can deal with different topics and these can be developed in different professional fields such as medical, legal, technical or literary. A translator must know at least two languages because when they work with a translation, two different languages and cultures are involved.

Translators need to take into account both language cultures because when you are not taking them into account, you will most likely that your translation does not make sense.

A translator owns developed linguistic abilities, but also knows about cultures and how to adapt that source culture to the target culture through language. If you are interested in knowing more about what a translator does, you should read some of the qualities of a good translator.


Bilingual’s characteristics

A bilingual can switch and use two different languages, you can own this ability as being native or adquire it. Being bilingual is related to the perfect use of two languages. An immigrant who communicates in a language different from its native one has this ability, as well as someone who carries his/her studies in two languages. If you want to know more about this topic, read this article about the bilingualism and its benefits.


The differences between the abilities of a translator and a bilingual

The difference between handling two different languages and improve them to “translate” something, can be as thin as chaotic. And this is risky because the person who is translating has to completely understand the sense of the text, and if not the translation will not have good results.

To translate you first need to understand the idea of the text, as this is also the first task of a translator. The difference between being bilingual and knowing how to translate is already thin in this first phase. Then, the translator deals with more general problems like culture, grammar, etc. Some of the most outstanding differences are:

  • Fluency

Both the bilingual and the translator handle two languages, but the translator besides mastering those two or more languages, has the the speed to communicate ideas in real time —talking about the interpreter— for its understanding.

Besides having the speed to express ideas, the translator needs to be able to think in different languages at the same time to understand the concepts in their sense and context.

  • Interpreting

A bilingual is always a step ahead of becoming an interpreter because of its abilities, but they also need the theoretical basis to perform it. It is necessary to get the adequate educational tools to let them develop the abilities needed to interpret.

A bilingual can interpret a message, but there is always the risk of not being able to transmit it faithfully to the target language.

Now that you know the differences between a translator and a bilingual, I’m sure you will hire the indicated person for the job you need!

By |2019-10-23T00:40:32-05:00October 23rd, 2019|Categories: Curiosities, Translation and Languages|Tags: , , , |4 Comments

About the Author:

Traduality Professional Translator – Skillful linguist passionate about languages and everything surrounding them, chocolate lover and hopeless soccer fan.


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