Domain knowledge is the deal maker

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When it comes to translation and interpretation, domain knowledge is the deal maker, not language skill. While of course you need some level of language skill to be able to get to the stage where you can do translation and interpretation, where it really matters is your knowledge of the domain.

If you’re just a general translator or interpreter, that’s fine. You can just do general translation and interpretation. But where we really want you is with specific domain knowledge.

I’ve watched inexperienced people try to translate things that I have specific knowledge in, for example the Dewa Sanzan or local performing arts. Without the proper domain knowledge, and the vocabulary needed to explain these things, you really are in over your head. That’s where language knowledge can only help you so much, but domain knowledge makes a world of difference.

By the way, those inexperienced people were me, and I’m talking about translations I’ve done in the past. Now that out of my personal interest I have built my domain knowledge, I can clearly see areas where I was wrong, where the information was not translated properly. At the time, I had language experience, but lacked domain knowledge. Now I have both, and can be a good asset, depending on the domain of course.

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