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The challenges involved when facing a translation project

Working as a translator can be extremely rewarding. You can earn a living researching and learning about new ideas and concepts, each and every day. Furthermore, you can structure your day as you please, working on your translations at the time of day that is most effective for you.

However, there are also several challenges that translators frequently face, when completing a translation project. This week eSense Translations shares the type of challenges faced by translators, the strategies that are used to overcome them and also a few potential ways a client can assist a translator from the outset of a project to ensure the best results.


Sector Specialisation

It is common for translators to specialise in a certain field of work. There is plenty of translation work to go around, so trying to be a legal, medical and marketing expert all at the same time is unnecessarily tricky. Translators choose the sector(s) that interest them, or from which they have previous industry experience and then study this field to ensure they have an in-depth understanding of the subject, as well as keeping up-to-date with all the new industry developments.

At eSense Translations, we only work with sector-experienced translators for our language projects to ensure the highest quality, most effective translation work.  If you require a translation, we’d love to hear from you. However if you already have a supplier, we would definitely recommend checking that you are working with a sector-specialist for your requirements.



Another key reason for a translator to focus on one or two subject areas is to ensure they have a full understanding of all the specialist terminology involved and are able to use it correctly in their translations. For example, a medical translator will not only be expected to accurately use all the terms used in medical processes, but also be fully familiar with the drugs used for treatment and their brand names in both the source and target language. This is no small task and therefore it is far better to be a specialist in one or two industry areas and produce successful translations, than spread yourself thinly and produce poor quality, inaccurate work for multiple fields.


Varying language nuances

A translation can prove to be challenging when a translator is faced with certain language nuances that simply do not exist in the target language. eSense Translations have written previously about how idioms, humour and slang should be avoided in content for translations, as they don’t transfer effectively from one language to another. However, even if these are avoided, it is still not unusual for a translator to come across a word or phrase for which there is simply no equivalent in the target language and is then challenged with finding an effective way of expressing the same concept. Check our blog on ‘Untranslatables’ for examples of these words and phrases.


Cultural appropriateness

Making sure a translation is culturally appropriate via localisation is another challenge facing a translator. However, if you are translating only into your native language, as most translators do, this should not be too much of a problem, as you will have a good understanding of your culture and what will be well received by the audience.

If you are translating into your second or third language, it is vital that you have gained firsthand experience of the culture to ensure your work is received well by the audience.

As a client, using native translators is the best way to ensure your translation is appropriate for your target market and any potential embarrassing faux-pas are avoided.


Different interpretations

Translation is not an exact science. It is more of an art. And this is more the case in some sectors than others. For example, there will be multiple ways of translating marketing content, whereas for legal documents, there is a lot less room for creativity. The challenge for translators is to make sure that the translation they produce is one which the client is happy with. Although a translation may not be wrong, it may not effectively reflect a company’s brand tone and style and therefore not be ‘right’ for the client.

A tip for clients when ordering a translation, particularly one which requires a certain amount of creativity, is to provide your supplier with a full brief of your expectations. Should the tone be relaxed or formal, what client base are you looking to target and what is the brand ethos that you are looking to convey?


Translation work can be an interesting and fulfilling job. The variety of challenges it poses provides translators with an opportunity to learn, not only about specific subject matters, but also different cultures, as well as improving their skills as a writer.

If you are looking for work as a translator, please get in contact with eSense Translations and let us know your relevant skills and experience.


By Lorna Paice

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