Why Work with a Professional Linguist

There will come a time when you will need to communicate with someone who speaks another language, whether verbally or in writing.

You have a friend who speaks another language or a bilingual employee.

You quickly reach out to them to help you facilitate the communication.

But is this really the best practice?

Read on to find out why you should always work with a professional linguists as opposed to bilingual individuals.

Bilingual individuals, translators, interpreters – What’s the difference?

It’s true that all three have one thing in common. They know at least two languages.

Translators and interpreters are bilingual by definition, sometimes specializing in more than two languages. They are also professional linguists.

The same cannot be said for bilingual individuals.

Read on to find out why you should work only with professional translators and interpreters on your projects and how to distinguish them from people who merely speak more than one language.


To better understand why you should work with professional translators and interpreters, you must first know what each one specializes in.

These definitions are directly from Oxford Dictionaries online.

  • Translator (Syllabification: trans·la·tor, Pronunciation: ˈtransˌlādər) – A person who translates from one language into another, especially as a profession.
  • Interpreter (Syllabification: in·ter·pret·er, Pronunciation: inˈtərprədər) – A person who interprets, especially one who translates speech orally.
  • Bilingual (Syllabification: bi·lin·gual, Pronunciation: ˌbīˈliNGɡwəl) – A person fluent in two languages.

Expanding on the definitions above, a translator specializes in written communication, whereas an interpreter focuses on spoken and sign language communication.

Why You Should Work with a Professional Linguist
5 Reasons Why You Should Work with a Professional Linguist

We came up with five reasons why you should work with professional linguists, including translators and interpreters.

1. Quality

This is perhaps the biggest reason why you should work with professional linguists. The level of quality a professional translator or interpreter can deliver to you will be superior to what a bilingual individual can do.

If you are okay with mediocre work, then stick to amateurs. If quality is important to you, work with a professional linguist.

2. Education & Training

One of the things that makes a professional is the level of education and training one has to go through. A professional linguist will typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in linguistics or a similar field.

Continuous education and training is also something translators and interpreters must participate to keep current with the latest trends. Such training and education opportunities are offered by industry associations such as the ATA.

3. Professionalism

Just like doctors and lawyers, translators and interpreters are professionals in their field. Therefore, they should present themselves as professionals and be treated as such.

Of course, there will be a few bad apples in every industry, but for the most part you should expect a professional level of service.

Learn about the 17 attributes that make a good translator.

4. Certification

Many translators and interpreters are certified by accredited institutions such as the ATA and CCHI.

Some projects may also require work to be completed by certified linguists.

Certification provides further proof that the translators and interpreters are capable of performing quality work.

5. Liability

According to the Contract Interpreter Information Center (CIIC), over 93% of all translators and interpreters are freelance contractors. This is a generally acceptable business model in the language services industry.

Essentially, this makes translators and interpreters operate as small businesses. Small businesses should, and in some cases required, to carry liability insurance. This will give you a piece of mind that should something go wrong, there is insurance to cover it.


Your take away from this article is that you should always work with a professional linguist on your projects.

To find a professional linguist near you, check out the searchable directory provided by the ATA.

To make your search easier, contact a language service company with your requirements.

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