This article suggests that a county council in England is using language students to do translations as a way of increasing business for companies in their region. What is upsetting is that the Norfolk County Council seems to believe that just because some students have done well in foreign language courses in high school, they are able to translate to that language or write documents directly in the language. Clearly, this is yet another case of people not understanding what translation is or what skills are involved.
In the article, a communications manager is quoted as saying, “Students need to understand that having good, relevant language skills can add value to their CV, and are just as important as their technical and other academic skills. It’s all too easy for those skills to lie dormant and only be brought out when ordering a meal on holiday!”
Of course this is true, but having language skills alone is certainly not enough to make a successful translator, as has been mentioned many times on this blog before.
I am sure there are some talented students involved in this project and maybe one day some of them will even become translators. In the meantime, however, I hope businesses will hire experienced, expert translators if they are serious about realizing their “true business potential” and increasing their business abroad.