SPECIALISED TRANSLATION: specialist who translates or translator who specialises?

Have you ever needed to translate complex medical information, expert financial reports, or a set of legal documents? Did you consider hiring a specialised translator or a subject-matter expert like a medical doctor or a lawyer?

This question comes up often in discussions both with clients or prospective clients and among language industry professionals themselves.

A trained medical doctor may be the subject-matter expert, but does she have enough language skills to complete a reliable translation? Furthermore, does she have enough command of productivity and quality control tools to respond adequately to translation delivery deadlines and compliance requirements?

On the other hand, a trained linguist may have the required translation core skills: excellent language command and writing skills, as well as research ability. But does he have enough understanding of the subject matter to produce a reliable translation?

We would all agree that a translator does not need to know how to fix a broken leg and he does not have to decide if a certain clause should be included in a legal contract. Likewise, a healthcare provider does not need to have strong language knowledge to help a patient regain their health.

However, when deciding who to hire for our translation project, there is usually some discussion, with different points of view coming from all sides of the process: subject-matter experts, translators, and language services buyers.

Our view on this stems from our own experience working with specialised translation: both types of providers are valid options, as long as they have the following core skills:

  • Language mastery
  • Adequate writing skills
  • Technological know-how
  • Research capabilities
  • Adequate subject-matter knowledge

Here at Multi, we always go for “Power Teams” of translator + subject-matter expert, where each can complement the other and provide a translation service that is linguistically impeccable as well as technically correct.

For more on specialised translation services, please get in touch with us.

See also: Is specialisation really the way to go?

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