Translation Polish Guide: Meet an English Polish Translator
In this Translation Polish Guide interview, Karolina, an English Polish translator, shares an insider's view of the translation craft. At the bottom, you'll find typical translator prices, as well as other useful information.
Conversation with Karolina Taflaj, Professional Polish Translator
Q: Why did you become a translator?
A: I always knew I wanted to do something with languages. I started to learn English when I was seven, and then when I moved the UK, I found that I could work as a translator and interpreter.
Q: What do you like about translating?
A: What I like most is the challenges it presents. You might think that if you speak two languages, it's straightforward and you can just say whatever you want in both, but when you're translating, you have to be careful and deal with differences in idiomatic expressions and different ways of saying things.
It is especially challenging when you have a legal translation or some other kind of specialized document. You have to learn a lot about the subject. I've almost become a legal expert because I've worked with so many legal texts.
Q: Do you translate from Polish to English as well as from English to Polish?
A: I mostly work from English to Polish. In Poland, translators work both ways, and the guys from Poland will come to me for something to be translated into English, but normally, I don't do that unless I know a native English speaker will be able to proofread it, except if it's something very straightforward like a marriage certificate.
Q: So do you think it’s important for translators to be natives of the target language?
A: I've been learning English since I was seven, which means it's been twenty years now, and I've been living in the UK for the past seven years, and I still haven’t mastered English perfectly. When you talk, it's not such a problem if you make a slight mistake. You might change an article or a preposition, but it's less noticeable, and you have a context for being understood. But when you're writing, you can make mistakes, and for a non-native speaker, these mistakes might not be a big deal, but for a native speaker, they might change the whole meaning. So when I translate to English, I make sure that a native speaker checks the translation.
Q: What information should a translation client provide to the translator?
A: If you're translating something for a company and it's packed with internal company jargon, then it's probably better to give tihe translator some background knowledge of the company culture. For example, job titles can mean different things in different companies, and the translator needs to know what equivalent to use. Or you have, say, a medical or dental translation, and you know of background information on the Web or a relevant book, then tell the translator where to find it.
The translator is there to help you, so give them as much information as you can. If you have some information, share it.
Q: What does a high quality translation mean to you?
A: Well-thought-through, researched, something that reads well. It has to be faithful to the source language, but it also has to read well. If you have to change the structure of the paragraphs, then do it. Someone reading a translated text has to understand it. Otherwise, it might have as well stayed in the original language and not been translated at all!
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