Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society
Overview: Translators convert written materials from one language into another language. The goal of a translator is to have people read the translation as if it were the original written material. To do that, the translator must be able to write in a way that maintains or duplicates the structure and style of the original text while keeping the ideas and facts of the original material accurate. Translators must properly transmit any cultural references, including slang, and other expressions that do not translate literally. Translators must read the original language fluently. They usually translate into their native language. Nearly all translation work is done on a computer, and translators receive and submit most assignments electronically. Translation services are needed in virtually all subject areas. The following are examples of types of translators:
Health or medical translators typically work in healthcare settings and must have knowledge of medical terminology and of common medical terms in both languages. They may translate research material, regulatory information, pharmaceutical and informational brochures, patient consent documents, website information, and patients’ records from one language into another. Legal or judicial translators typically work in courts and other legal settings and must have a strong understanding of legal terminology. Literary translators convert journal articles, books, poetry, and short stories from one language into another language. They work to keep the tone, style, and meaning of the author’s work. Localizers adapt text and graphics used in a product or service from one language into another language, a task known as localization. Localization specialists work to make it appear as though the product originated in the country where it will be sold. They must not only know both languages, but also understand the technical information they are working with and the culture of the people who will be using the product or service.
Geography skills and awareness are essential for translators. They obviously work daily with multiple languages and cultures, and geography plays a large part in the background and contemporary usages of language and for the people with whom translators work. Languages often have dialects that can vary with location as well (Swiss German is somewhat different than German, for example).
Geographers at work: Linguistic geographer, cultural geographer, human geographers
Recommended College Courses: Linguistic or language geography, cultural geography, human geography
Skills: Understanding and sensitivity to geographical variations in language and culture.
Occupation Group: Media and Communication
Learn more about Translators from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson