Communication is essential for all aspects of human life. Our language skills help us to connect with friends, relatives, and colleagues and navigate the world around us. In the business world (which you could argue even has its own language), clear and accurate communication is critical for every engagement, including to close deals, broker partnerships, or negotiate contracts.

However, what if you can’t communicate with someone because you both speak different languages? What if you had to professionally deal with a prospective client who doesn’t understand your nativetongue? If you’re not a polyglot, there’s no need to worry because there is a whole industry of dedicated professionals trained to help. They are our translators and interpreters.

Language barriers are very common in modern society. Without translators or interpreters to bridge gaps in language, we would have a hard time expressing ourselves and understanding others, and many projects, trips, and activities would likely grind to a halt.

Translation and interpretation is a service that ties us all together. For example, global trade and international relations would not be possible without translation services. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of translation and interpretation and the skills needed to effectively bridge cultural and language barriers.

Translators&Interpreters: Making Intercultural Communication Possible

 With the rise of globalization and multiethnic societies, translation services have become increasingly indispensable. Translation breaks down language barriers and makes effective communication possible, even among strangers who don’t speak each other’s languages. Often taken for granted, translation quietly contributes to economic growth and intercultural understanding.

The role of translation and interpretation is essential for a well-functioning society. For example, people leading cross-cultural projects require translators or interpreters to help them communicate effectively with a target audience. Beyond being fluent in many languages, translators and interpreters also have to be fair, credible, and trustworthy to help foster trust with your target audience. Delivering your message with credibility is a responsibility that will rest on the translator’s shoulders.

Knowing Translators and Interpreters by Heart

Translation and interpretation are interrelated professions that are sometimes used interchangeably. Translators can interpret languages and interpreters can also translate languages. However, despite being closely related to one another, there are some important differences.

The major difference that sets translators and interpreters apart from each other is the form of communication that they convert from one language to another. A translator converts a language into another in written form, whereas an interpreter translates verbal forms. Both translators and interpreters require an expert-level linguistic skill set and profound understanding of the source and target language. However, the means by which they deliver their output also demands specific skill sets.

Translators and interpreters vary distinctly in terms of duties and responsibilities. The tasks of a translator are heavily inclined to paper, digital, and written works. They convert written documents or website content from one language to the requested target language. As such, to efficiently perform their tasks, translators should be fluent in at least two languages, and possess a mastery of communication skills such as speaking, critical reading, and most importantly, writing.

However, because interpreters don’t focus on writing tasks, they will tend to have a slightly different skill set than translators. Because they process speech and convert it from one language to another; they need to possess acute listening skills and the ability to code switch quickly, while being able to think fast on their feet.

Overall, the demand and importance of translation and interpretation services in various professions is huge. When you are looking for a good translator, find one who not only has an expert command of language, but who also understands your specific needs.

Professionalism Among Translators and Interpreters

As globalization accelerates, more international companies are establishing their commercial presence in emerging economies. However, it’s not uncommon for these companies to encounter problems related to language barriers and cultural differences. The importance of translators and interpreters, who can also act as cross-cultural mediators, clearly emerges here. Translators and interpreters, thus, have a complex and weighty responsibility.

Translation service providers must have a clear understanding of their clients’ needs and goals. As such, an effective translator or interpreter must possess a sound work ethic and a professional attitude to successfully support their clients. Here are other qualities to look out for if you’re looking for a professional translator or interpreter.

1.   Linguistic Expertise

It is not enough for translators and interpreters to merely have a familiar or functional grasp of various languages. They must possess expert-level fluency and an understanding of linguistic and cultural nuances to localize the translation and deliver accurate messages to an audience.

2.      Soft Skills

In addition to linguistic proficiency, a translator or interpreter must also possess important soft skills. Translators and interpreters often deal with confidential documents or are privy to high-level conversations.  They must be trustworthy, professional, discreet, tactful, and objective.

3.      Intercultural Awareness

There’s more to language than just words and phrases. How one communicates is often a reflection of their cultural background. As such, a good translator or interpreter will also have a deep understanding of a target audience’s cultural norms. This can include knowing how to address and communicate with older people or people with high-ranking positions. For example, in some Asian countries, speaking with someone older requires more formal speech. Having a thorough cultural understanding of various cultural groups reflects respect and appreciation for their customs and traditions. This will prevent any possible misunderstandings and instead pave the way for improved communication.

Final Thoughts

Our vast world has grown more interconnected, providing more opportunities to cross borders and connect with people from different cultures. Cross-cultural communication is driving the expansion of many businesses, thanks to the work of translators and interpreters. Though their work is usually unseen and taken for granted, a translator or interpreter’s job is complex and critical to the global economy. They must possess a wide range of qualities such as linguistic skills, business knowledge, and cultural appreciation. Aside from being communicative, sociable, tolerant, and open-minded, they also need to act with the highest levels of professionalism to successfully bridge intercultural gaps across the globe.