Translation is a focused linguistic activity. The author of the source text has a particular intended message that must be conveyed to the recipient in the target language in a way that the message of the author is understood as intended. It is not enough to simply replace one word with another: Ambiguity, metaphors and particular associations tied to words and expressions must be adapted to the communicative practice within a set of speakers, etc. Machines cannot perform this to the full extent.
Qualified translators therefore analyze given texts very specifically with their cultural background, take into account the intended purpose of the translation and work target-oriented for the intended group of addressees. This requires detailed knowledge of the sources and options for obtaining the required information. To this end, a creative, analytical-synthetical and critical manner of operating is the prerequisite for a qualified translation. Translators therefore not only are highly skilled at two or more languages, but also have additional skills that are conveyed specifically and further solidified during training.
Most translators work as specialist translators. Expert translators transfer highly specialized texts from a host of different areas, such as instruction manuals, annual reports, advertising brochures, scientific expert articles, patents, etc.
They are usually specialized in certain areas. Specialist translators are adept at very quickly adapting to specialist areas due to their solid expert knowledge, research competence and scientific work skills.
Literary translators translate fiction, nonfiction and expert literature. They generally work as freelancers for publishing houses in a separate professional association, the Verband deutschsprachiger Übersetzer literarischer und wissenschaftlicher Werke e.V. (Association of German-Speaking Translators of Literary and Scientific Works (VdÜ)).
We have come to expect that the menus of computer programs appear in our native language on our computers, even when the software comes from another country. This is a testimony of the work that software localizers do.
They adapt user manuals, online help, menu and computer program interfaces to the language of the target market. Localizers use localization tools for their work.
This is a specialist field with different fields of application: Subtitlers transfer spoken language into writing. Subtitles are used for movies and television, at the theater, and at conferences. Subtitlers use special software for short texts that reproduce the gist of what was said.
A special form of this is written interpretation: Here, subtitlers, also called simultaneous stenographers, transfer the spoken word to readable text for the hearing-impaired using special stenography software.
Sworn translators perform officially confirmed translations, that is they also confirm the accuracy and completeness of translations.
This is often required, for example, for documents indicating civil status and court documents for provision to authorities as well as international legal relations. Certificate translators are sworn according to the legal provisions of the respective state.
Conference translators work at large international organizations. They translate work documents such as speeches, discussion contributions and decisions that must be available in writing before the end of the event directly at the conference site.
They work under challenging conditions since the expert translations must be completed in very little time ready for a vote or for publishing.