A shout-out to all my fellow interpreter and translator friends:
“International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security. ” (un.org)
“We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.” ― Desmond Tutu
My colleagues and I often talk about the fact that speaking English has almost come to be expected from many European non-native speakers, especially from the Dutch and the Germans. Not sure why, though, since we don’t expect North Americans to speak fluent German, Dutch or Spanish. As a matter of fact, we don’t even count on every Canadian to speak French fluently, although French is one of two official languages in Canada (the other being English).
Coupled with the mistaken assumption that being (almost) fluent in two (or more) languages also means that you can translate (written) or interpret (spoken) from one language to the other, we regularly stumble across more or less awkward mistranslations.
On the occasion of International Translation Day I just have to state the obvious: These minor and major errors could be avoided by hiring a qualified and experienced translator or (conference) interpreter. Professional language service providers are members of provincial/ state and/or national professional bodies. Each professional association has an online directory to easily find someone by language combination. In North America they usually have a designation like “Certified Translator” or “Certified Conference Interpreter.” They can help you communicate more effectively in the foreign language, because they “know their stuff.”
So to all my qualified colleagues out there: Happy translating and/or interpreting!