Don’t ever underestimate your audience. People are smart. They can not only read between the lines but they can also see through the text. They know if you try to fool them to believe that the text is original and not translated. Furthermore they can tell whether it’s a translation made by someone who isn’t a professional translator. This ability is as amazing as it sounds, and we all have it.
We notice all the tiny details which are not quite right. We may not react to one or two of them but if there’s too many they steal our attention. I mean those small items which we understand but which clearly doean’t belong to our language, like odd sentence structures. Translation amateurs take commas as given. But when one tries to fit an idea into a frame that is set by some other language, the outcome can’t be natural or fluent. It happens often that a unprofessional translator focuses more on translating the words and not the message.
The online world is full of amateur translations. For example some less ambitious publications (mostly tabloids and others dedicated to fast journalism) publish online articles that are often very far from perfect. The order of the words, the word choices and the structure of the sentences reveal that it’s often a translated piece of text. It sounds like someone is translating a foreign language text to a friend t the same time when reading it the first time. The idea might be found but the translation feels clumsy.
Naturally, some people can produce excellent translations without translation studies. It probably is laborious and it takes some time to finish it though. If excellence is not the goal few people have the energy to concentrate on every detail with the same attitude than a professional has. Brains of a professional are trained to work with texts, to find a fluent solution, to hide that it’s a translation. Professional translators can see the big picture.
Unprofessional translations are good at certain situations. Translation doesn’t have to be perfect every time. However, it’s wrong to assume that the readers wouldn’t notice the difference. Native users of the language will be sensitive to see the true nature of the text. This is important especially if the translated text is used in image or brand building. Any discrepancy between the message and the style will only confuse the reader and make the author look suspicious.