What to Expect When Majoring in Translation

Translation isn’t a walk in the park, as one might think. I would have loved to be told, by anyone before me, what to expect when I signed up for this major, so this is to help anyone wanting to choose translation as their career path.

You are not a dictionary

What does this word mean in X language?” is the hilarious question everyone will undoubtedly ask you when they find out you’re a translator. Anticipate this joke, you’ll hear it a lot.

Keep in mind that not knowing the equivalent of every word in every language does not lessen your ability as a translator.

Friend or foe?

Google Translate and co. are not your friends

I understand your propensity to use Google Translate when you feel like you’ve reached a dead end while translating. It’s useless, though, because the result is inaccurate. In the rare case that it is, then it is not up to par.

However, some people actually believe that it is useful, and that it will replace translators. They’ll “helpfully” suggest you turn to teaching once you get your diploma. Sarcasm aside, they have a point. Translation can open many doors for you, considering it ties in with many other domains of work.

Suitcases with wheels are the best way to avoid back pain!

Suitcases are your friends

You’ll invest in many dictionaries, so while you’re at it, invest in some suitcases as well, because come exam times, the need for them will escalate. You’ll want to take all the proper dictionaries, just in case, and they are heavy.

Take it from someone who had to carry at least three dictionaries to university every time an exam was due. Just invest in a suitcase, and if you already own one, dust it off.

Practice and translation go hand in hand

Translation is more than just relaying a message in another language. It requires knowledge, culture and mastering the languages you speak.

It’s not a problem if you’re not knowledgeable enough, or if you’re not as fluent as you’d like in a language. Practice is key. You’ll have the time to work on your skills, and you’ll have the unconditional support of your peers and instructors as well.

What you’ve just read is something I constantly faced during my studies. It’s a common experience, and it awaits you if you choose to follow in my footsteps. If not, then tell me about your experience! What are some things you’ve learned about your major that you weren’t aware of before?