4 reasons why native speakers are the best translators

On 21 February, we celebrate International Mother Language Day. So let’s explain why our translators always translate into their native language!

  1. Grammatically correct is not the same as totally accurate

A minor adjustment can make a big difference. An English native speaker would never translate ‘Ik ben mijn middageten thuis vergeten’ as ‘I have forgotten my lunch at home’. The sentence is not grammatically incorrect and everyone knows what is meant. But a Brit would raise their eyebrows. It’s much more natural to say: ‘I left my lunch at home’.

  1. Feeling with the changing language

A native language speaker is much more aware of what is happening in their language. Language is constantly changing, and if the translator keeps their finger on the pulse, they know what expressions are popular, what words are old fashioned and what new developments are emerging in the culture. That all affects what is considered a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ translation. So ‘doch’ may be the right alternative for ‘maar’, but it makes a text sound formal and inaccessible.

  1. Feeling with the target audience

What is polite in one language may not be in another. Canadians tend to say ‘good for you’ when someone has good news. They mean ‘congratulations’. In Belgium, if you respond to good news with the equivalent ‘goed voor u’, you will at best appear uninterested and in the worst case come across as rude. Such nuances can change the entire meaning of a text.

  1. A rich vocabulary

Anyone who grows up with a language will pick up a lot of words on the way. Research has shown that a native language speaker knows an average 15,000 to 20,000 words. Even after years of study, a non-native language speaker will only have acquired 2,000 to 3,000 words. A massive difference! A translator who translates into their native language is therefore better able to find the right words and think up synonyms.


At Wilkens c.s., we believe that translators who translate into their native language write the most natural texts. Because they ensure that a translation does not read like a translation but as a text that was originally written in their language. For that reason, we work with more than 3,000 native speakers, each with their own specialisation. In this way, we find the perfect translator for each text.

Need help with a translation? Please contact us via +32 9 265 00 40 or via info@wilkens.be. Our project managers are always ready to help.

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