People who are far from translation filipino to english may say: “What difference does it make what language you translate into? My friend graduated from a language school and has been working as a translator for “two whole years”. And he knows the language not just “freely”, but “perfectly”!

But in fact, if we talk about professional translation, translation into the native language and translation from the native language into a foreign language are like two different specialties. We will not consider here which parts of the brain are involved in each of these two cases. Let neurophysiologists sort it out.


We only note that the lower the translator’s qualification and the weaker his level of foreign language proficiency, the more he likes to translate into his native language. This is exactly the case when modern polyglots (or just lovers of cheap effects) proudly declare that they are translating from 5, 10 or more foreign languages.

In fact, today, in order to translate a text from a foreign language, it is absolutely not necessary to know the original language. You can always use dictionaries or machine translation systems, and then “brush” the output a little, removing sharp corners.

In such a translation, distortions of meaning, inaccuracies and omissions are more common, but outwardly everything can look very decent. It is not so difficult to perform such post-editing in your native language, especially if the text is not very complex and the translation is not urgent.

This is what allows specialists in a particular field, with an average knowledge of the original language, to quite successfully translate texts in their native language in their narrow specialty into their native language.

But the translation of a professional translator with specialized translation education always differs sharply from translations into their native language, which are done by novice translators or techies with knowledge of the language.

A professional translator (according to education and work experience) translates what is written in the original text, additionally using his background knowledge, dictionaries, reference books, Internet sources, etc. when translating.

A novice translator often simply substitutes the first of the translation options he finds in the dictionary. At the same time, he is absolutely sure: “If I found this option in the dictionary, then this word or expression can and should be translated that way!”.

Not to mention the fact that it is usually difficult for an inexperienced translator with a shallow knowledge of the language to even choose from several translation options offered in the dictionary, because he does not “feel” these words and has no idea how to use them correctly in context.

A technical translator or a specialist in some other subject area (for example, in medicine) does not translate so much as guesses: sometimes more successfully, sometimes less successfully. After all, no one taught him translation, but only taught him to read the text in his specialty. And to read, it is not necessary to understand everything thoroughly to the smallest detail.

If the text is simple and logical enough, then limited linguistic knowledge, combined with a deep professional knowledge of the subject itself, may be quite enough to make a generally good and competent translation, where all terms will be correctly conveyed.

But in practice, illogical texts are often encountered, and the presentation can be so confusing that it is difficult for a philologist to understand the heap of subordinate clauses, modal verbs, and complex tense forms.

Here, techie translators fail, because they are not able to give a word-by-word translation of what is written in the original, and there is almost nothing to guess in such a fancy text.

I recall an amusing incident related to the period when I worked for almost 7 years in the GDR on Wismuth (1974-1980) by distribution after the institute. Once we were simultaneously translating some regular serious meeting, it seems, the directorate with the participation of the General Director of the industry, Semyon Nikolaevich Voloshchuk.

And now I’m just translating into Russian the speech of the director or chief engineer of one of the mining enterprises and giving out the following phrase to the audience: “… and we drilled wells through dumps.” Here, unable to resist, the General Director himself intervenes (a mining engineer by profession), addresses me by my last name and says: “What are you translating there?! Through what other dumps ?!

For all the absurdity of the phrase by ear for experts, it turned out that I translated it absolutely correctly. The chief engineer of the enterprise stood up for me and explained to the State Duma that for some reason the wells were indeed drilled through dumps.

At the same Wismuth, I had the opportunity to conduct German classes for more than one year in mixed groups of Soviet specialists (geologists, miners, economists, mathematicians, doctors). I remember asking specialists to translate a text in their specialty from a sheet. And that same “guessing” begins instead of translating strictly what is written.