Why do translators have to listen and read in their mother tongue?
Why do translators have to listen and read in their mother tongue? Languages are born, live, evolve, and sometimes die. Some ways of speaking and words appear, disappear or change. For example, the word “selfie” was unknown 30 years ago. Moreover, grammar rules and spelling change over the years too. In French, the famous “circumflex accent” or “^” is less and less used.
Being a French native does not mean, and this is true for a foreign language too, that you perfectly know your own language. At home, during childhood, we sometimes learnt a different way of talking and writing. That is why at school and even later during university courses, translators have French classes (grammar, conjugation, style, etc.) to make sure that their future work will be up to date with the latest evolutions of language. As professionals, it is also our role to go on learning and searching for those new ways of expression.
Moreover, reading and listening improves the cultural, technical, or general background, which is a great help when translating, to produce accurate sentences and adapt to the needs of our clients.
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