Nowadays there are a number of languages spoken throughout the world. Every person knows at least one language, which he learns in his childhood and which is the foundation of the everyday life communication. Additionally, many people choose or are forced to learn one or more additional languages or said in other words- to become bilingual. But what exactly means to be bilingual?
Generally speaking a bilingual person is one that speaks two languages equally fluent which, however, is not possible as there is always one language being prevalent over another. So being bilingual is considered to be the (almost) equal fluency in two languages. There are numerous benefits of being bilingual such as flexibility of the language, flexible thinking and better development of Broca`s area- the region in the brain which function is linked to speech production. Being bilingual can bring several benefits, including professional opportunities: individuals who speak multiple languages can work in a wide range of position and offer different services related to languages, from direct translation of documents and media to multilingual link building services.
Individuals who speak a number of languages can also enjoy an enhanced lifestyle and the can travel more freely: they can travel, for instance, to small paradisiac cities like San Sebastian, in Spain, where they can find accommodation in apartments in San Sebastian and put into practice their Spanish language abilities. Therefore being multilingual or bilingual can bring several different opportunities.
It can be viewed as a natural result of the expanding set of languages spoken today. In addition, the wide range of languages generates the need for understanding between one another. Here comes the need for translation. All over the world, translation has become a universal activity, driven from the diversity of languages spoken around the world. So what exactly is translation?
Most generally speaking, it is a particular application of the theory of meaning from one language to another by the replacement of textual materials with their equivalent in another language. The main purpose of translation is to translate a meaning to its equivalent in another language. The concept of equivalence, however, causes some obstacles as the meaning can be interpreted in different ways. So, in translation, not only the meaning standing by itself matters, but also the context in which it appears.
So, if bilingualism is being almost equally fluent in two languages and translation being the transmission of meaning from one language to another, is translation synonymous with bilingualism?
Bilingual people interpret words in a way that is different from the translation in the dictionary, and this has a simple psychological explanation. To people who are bilingual, words are commonly used in context, in situations that are defined both by their physical characteristics and by their intentions towards the words.
These conditions affect the way words are interpreted when heard or seen and the meanings given to them. Having met a large number of language agencies offering translation services, I can assure being bilingual is a top priority for these agencies when it comes to recruiting staff.
This concludes that bilinguals have a slightly different perception of words. They know the meaning of the word. However, this meaning is slightly subjective depending on their personal experiences involving this word. This same experience is not experienced by people who are not bilingual, as they don’t have a personal attachment to the word as they are forced to learn the meaning in the dictionary.
There is, of course, difference in the perception regarding the actual meaning of the word. But both bilinguals and not so fluent learners of a given language can be equally successful in translating, giving themselves the freedom to add just a bit of their personal meaning and experience into the translated word.