A well-known difficulty for translators, but there is little awareness outside of them, is the fact that the text to be translated is often already a translation, not necessarily true, and it must, to the extent possible, to try passing it back to the original.
The classic example is the gospels, including the oldest known manuscripts written in ancient Greek, but with sentences probably held in Aramaic. As the original potential in this language seem to be lost , if they ever existed, it results scholars quarrels.
Today, the phenomenon is amplified and comes in various forms.
First, the use of a bridge language. If we have to translate into modern Greek a text written in Estonian, it may be difficult to find a translator familiar with both the two languages and the subject in question. There will be a translation, usually in English, which will be the starting point for the translator. The vagueness of this language can create problems.
English being considered an “international” language, “understood” everywhere, we will often use instinctively, thinking thus to make things easier. The reality is far: besides the fact that only 38 % of Europeans have a more or less good mastery of English and only 2.5% of Japanese, for example, the use of their mother tongue is proven much more efficient and cost effective than the use of a third language such as English. For example, if the head of a Spanish company wants to write to a French company, the easiest way would be he cast his broad in its language, and a secretary would format the text and re-read it before sending it, having thus expressed his thoughts as much as possible. The recipient would give the letter to a Spanish to French translator and receive in return the closest version of the original. In practice, the Spanish official deems more polite to ask a bilingual secretary supposed to write in the language of her Majesty, and therefore the secretary write in English may be imperfect. It is possible that the corresponding , not understanding the gibberish that sends him, to still be forced to go to a translator, and this will make even more difficult to translate that if he had directly in front of him the Spanish text.
A similar state of mind plays when an international company has a German text and an English translation and will need a French translation. It almost automatically use a translator for the English version, which is likely to ask far more problems than the original, which is almost never thinks to join .