Thursday, May 01, 2014

Learning a New Language

Many of us who are translators are pretty obsessed with language. For some of us, this means we’re real linguaphiles, and we can’t stop ourselves from wanting to learn more tongues and take more language classes and buy more “teach yourself” language books.

I’ve been told by some people, however, that translators should just specialize and should focus on the one or two languages that they really know best. They say you can confuse yourself or spread your brain cells too thinly across the language zones. They say you no longer look like an expert but rather something of a dilettante.

I don’t agree. Yes, I think you need to continually improve your skills in your source and target languages (and this means reading, writing, speaking, and listening in them as often as possible, ideally every day). But I also think that the more you learn about other languages, the more knowledge you have about how language works generally, and how things sound in your source and target tongues in particular. You’re more open to the possibilities.

What do you think? How many languages do you know or have you studied? And out of those, how many do you work with regularly?


Jório said...

I believe anything that is done seriously was originally contemplated as something to be done for fun, as well. If I'm a serious translator and glad to be working with translator, that's because learning languages has been something pleasant to do. So, why not keep doing it? The more, the merrier!

Jório said...

Sorry, working with TRANSLATION*