Bilingual or Bicultural?

More than half of the world’s population today is at least bilingual. However only a small number of these people will become translators and interpreters. Not everyone who speaks several languages can call himself a translator. It is believed that a good translator needs not only to be bilingual, but also bicultural.

If speaking two languages would be enough to be a translator, then anyone with a dictionary would be able to translate. It isn’t the case. Translators do not only translate words. They translate meanings, idioms, and phrases that would only make sense in one particular cultural background. To be able to achieve this, translators must be aware of their second language’s culture. But how does one become successfully bicultural?

Multicultural people immerse themselves in the life of two or several different cultures. They take part and adapt their behaviours, values, attitudes to these cultures. It is essential for translators to take into account even the tiniest cultural references when translating a text. Failing to do so can sometimes have devastating consequences.

It is also good in general to be multicultural. It can double up your social networks, improve your awareness of cultural differences, and help bridge two different countries that have different cultures. It is also said that being multicultural awards you greater creativity and professional success.

It is certain that bilingualism is required for translation proficiency and efficiency. A good translator should be bicultural or multicultural and should be given training in their second language’s cultural background.

Should you need a translator for a particular cultural text, here at LingoStar we have a range of native-speaking professional and certified translators who have an in-depth knowledge of many cultural backgrounds.