I often get asked why use a professional translator vs. a bilingual speaker to translate documents into other languages. The answer can be elusive, but if the question is rephrased, the answer becomes obvious. Would I use a professional to write a legal document or a technical manual, for instance? If the answer is yes, you need to work with a professional translator. If you need to translate a personal communication, where accuracy and writing skills are not of the essence, use your bilingual friend.
In the case of Korean, many people consider it an isolate language with Chinese influences. Thirty five percent of the words in the language are Korean, 60% are Sino-Korean and around 5% are loaned words, mostly from English. Geographically, Korean is mostly limited to the Korean peninsula. The size and importance of the Korean economy have created a large demand for Korean translators and anyone attempting to translate between Korean and other languages must be deeply steeped in the Korean language and culture.
If you are looking for Korean translators, this article will help you to understand what to look for.
The Question Is: What makes a good Korean translator?
A professional translator, besides being proficient in both Korean and the other language, must have a special talent for language, have special training in linguistics, and professional expertise in a given field in order to be well versed in the idioms of that particular subject matter.
1. Native speakers
To be able to produce a good translation into Korean the translator must certainly be a native speaker. The relationship between a speaker or writer and his or her subject and audience is crucial in Korean, and the grammar and writing style reflects this relationship. Korean uses a system of honorifics expressed in the choice of special nouns or verb endings to show the status of the speaker or writer in relation to the listener or reader. In general terms, a person holds a superior status if he or she is an older relative, a stranger of about the same or older age, or a teacher, an employer, a customer, and so on. In addition to using the correct honorific grammar, the writer must use the appropriate speech level in verb endings that indicates the level of formality of the text. Since there are seven levels of formality in Korean, each with its own unique set of verb endings, Korean translators must necessarily have the spontaneous response to his/her audience that can only be achieved by a native speaker.
2. Excellent understanding of source language
Even for a native speaker, considerable aptitude for language plus a consistent background of Korean and source language training beyond high school are needed for a language professional to have complete mastery of both Korean and the source language. As a professional in translation, the expert must also have training in linguistics and formatting and demonstrate an artistry for capturing the entire meaning and tone of a given text.
3. Detail oriented
The professional Korean must be dedicated to delivering quality through paying a great deal of attention to every detail of grammar, usage, diction, format and style. Consultation with several translators and editors is often necessary to insure the accuracy and correct tone of your translation into Korean.
4. Three years of training (minimum)
Professional Korean translators for specialized fields, such as engineering translations, legal translations, or medical translations, must have the appropriate professional background in order to deal with the technical vocabulary. Translations of material for marketing or the media also requires relevant experience to capture the appropriate idiomatic vocabulary and style for the target audience. Whatever the nature of your translation project, LanguageTran will draw upon a highly trained translator to meet your needs.
5. Relevant experience
Very often translation projects come under a very specialized field, for example: engineering documents, licensing contracts, safety manuals for the operation of a certain type of machinery. Always use a professional translator who has experience in your particular field. It is not uncommon to find retired doctors or lawyers that are full-time translators and who are experts in their fields.