A French translator is one who translates to or from French, usually in writing, while retaining the accurate meaning and subtleties of the original. The original language in a translation is called the source language, whereas the language into which it is being translated is called the target language. The term "translator" is often used to differentiate from "interpreter", in that interpreters translate speech, while translators specialize in written language. Translators often pursue college degrees in language or communications, though it is certainly not a requirement.
A French translator is often a native speaker of French and another language; those who are raised bilingually often make the best translators, because they can understand and capture the subtle nuances of each language. If this is not the case, then a French translator will often only work in one direction; for instance, a native English speaker would typically translate French into English, but not English into French.
There are many different mediums that may need to be translated by a French translator. Some work in translating literature or poetry, while others may work in education, business, or for a government. Technical materials, such as industrial or medical manuals is another common area of specialization.
Translators may choose a specific field in which to work, such as the medical field or legal field, and will then need to learn the specific terminology for that field. It may be necessary to consult reference guides and other native speakers to get the most thorough and correct translation. Translators may also work to translate movies or television programs to create subtitles. Different types of translating may require extensive research, particularly if it is a subject matter with which the translator is unfamiliar.
A French translator often works as a freelancer before becoming hired permanently. It is important for him or her to be able to always meet deadlines, and to proofread his own work for accuracy of meaning, as well as correct sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling. Sometimes, a translator may not be sure what a writer is trying to say, and will need to contact the writer in order to clarify any confusing points. It is important for a French translator to develop lasting relationships with clients, as well as to create a network of contacts in order to have a steady flow of work. Accurate and efficient translators are virtually always needed, particularly as international business becomes more and more common.