First of all, let’s define the term “mother tongue” translator. This would be an individual who grew up and was educated in the country of your target language. As such, this translator would have a fluency in that language that included all of the nuances and idiomatic expressions that are often “cultural” and highly local, even to specific regions to a country.
When you are considering a provider for your translation or transcripts translation services, then, you really want to ensure that the agency has “mother tongue” translators to provide the quality of work you both want and need. To ensure this, you have every right to have full discussions with any provider you are considering. You need to ask important questions:
- How does the provider verify the background and education of those translators who claim to be “mother tongue?”
- Will the agency provide references for the “mother tongue” translator they intend to assign to your task?
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The reasons you want a mother tongue translator are several:
- You Will Get Far More Accurate Grammar: When a translator is educated in his native country, he will be taught the language curriculum of his schools, from elementary school through college. Grammar and composition is a sequential and increasingly complex curriculum in any educational system. The translator then masters that native language, with all of its syntax. This includes all of the grammar and composition “rules” as well as the mechanics.
- You Will Get Accurate “Localization”: Localization entails many things. For translations, this means accuracy in the use of words and phrases. For example, in American English, we use the term “elevator;” in UK English, it is a “lift.” This is a basic and simple example, but when you get into business and legal terminology, these word usages become critical, in order to avoid misunderstandings.
- You Will Be Culturally Sensitive: Literal translations from one language to another can offend populations in the target language countries or regions within those countries. There are cultural nuances among native populations – nuances that a “mother tongue” translator will know and be able to avoid.
- Proper Fluency and Coherence: Literal translations can seem stilted and lacking in logical and structural flow. A “mother tongue” translator can read the original document, paragraph by paragraph, gather all of the salient points and terminology and then fashion sentences that are logically and fluently structured and flow one into the other.
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As you look for translators or translation agencies, you will want to have professionals who are true “mother tongue” experts. They can only be “mother tongue” translators if they have grown up in their native countries and been educated there as well. You have the right to demand such translators – the work product will be exactly what you need.
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