Should translators specialize or go multilingual?

Should translators specialize or go multilingual?

Multilingual Translations

Multilingual Translations

Translators mostly take up the profession for the love of languages and while one might be adept at 2 major languages, some prefer to go multilingual to broaden their career scope. However, is it a wise choice to diversify or should one stick to specializing in a language one is best at?

Any translator by default is a bilingual, however the opposite does not necessarily holds true. There has to be two languages- the target and source language that any translator would be well-versed at, but when it comes to being multilingual, unless someone has years of experience and has been specifically taught the nuances of each language, one cannot really excel at them all.

Today, specialization has become the need of the hour and the best in trade are all specialists. So, of course in any debate on multilingual versus specialization, the majority of the translators would root for specialization and although, going multilingual has its pros in the form of broader scope for jobs, it is specialization that will win in the long run.

There’s no denying the fact that machine intelligence is giving stiff competition to its human counterpart today. There are numerous software that can easily translate from any given language, however their translation is not precise. But where a couple of years ago the whole concept of software translation was amusing, in days to come there could be marked improvisation on the current version.

When it comes down to the very basic, there are two main reasons why translators should seriously contemplate walking down the specialization road. First off, one can never completely learn a language, considering the immensity of knowledge. To fully comprehend the details of any language, it would take someone a good experience and diligence and once you are well-versed with the fine points of the language, your translation automatically improves significantly.
Apart from quality, your speed and precision would also increase considerably. Why do a lot of people turn to software translation ignoring its lack of definiteness is because of the speedy result it offers. The need for fast and correct translation is soon gaining leverage and most people are on the lookout for translators who can both deliver excellent quality translated content within a given time frame.

Furthermore, aside from the language, some translators also zero in on the technical aspects. Suppose for a Chinese to English translation or an Arabic to Chinese translation, certain translator specialize in just the two languages plus if he hails from medical or legal background, the translator would further specialize in that particular field.

Where on one hand specialization limits one’s scope to a certain field, it also makes one a master of that trade. Multilingual translators can ensure quantitative translation by being able to translate documents in a number of language but specialist translators can offer qualitative translations by being more adept at translating a particular language with all its precision. When it comes to the battle between multilingual versus specialization translation, it is more about quantity versus quality.