Definition: Non-native

Translation is much more than having a perfect command of a language. Even people who have been raised as bilinguals are sometimes poor translators: they are just not capable of taking a text in one language and creating an equivalent in the other language.

On the other hand, people are sometimes forced to engage translators who do not translate into their native language: for example, if there are no native speakers available. Non-native translators must meet very strict requirements:

  • Preferably studied a foreign language or linguistics. Has achieved a near native level in the target language; this is a level that people who have studied a language often, mistakingly attribute to themselves. However, a translator is expected to have achieved this level through thorough training and education. Another matter that is just as important: the translator must have a realistic view of the flaws that still form a part of his second language.
  • Specialized texts sometimes require a translator who is specialized in a particular area. This expertise can offset a non-linguistical background as long as the translator has a native level command of one of the languages and an advanced level of the other.

In both cases, the translator must be able to produce an adequate translation, but prefers to have the text proofread and fine-tuned by a native speaker.


Mariana Mellor
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