It is significant, perhaps, that the Latin term translatio, from which the English word "translation" originates, literally meant moving or conveying something from one side to the other. By way of illustration, one might consider the image of a ferryman moving passengers from one riverbank to the other. When translating texts, the shores of the river may be taken to symbolize two separate cultural territories, separated by great distances in some cases.
In the ideal case, a translation conveys the reader from his or her "home" territory and introduces them to a strange new land, a place never visited previously. As most thinking is done in one's native tongue, translation very often involves presenting foreign concepts or trains of thought and making them intelligible to people raised and educated to think quite differently.
For this reason, many view translating as more of an art rather than a science. Others, impressed by the role this activity plays in business and public affairs, claim it to be an industry producing a tangible, marketable result. Whatever view you might take, it is obvious from what has been said that there can be no such thing as a perfect translation. There are only good or successful translations (e.g. Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose into German) and poor ones; for the latter there are numerous examples.
What constitutes a good translation? It is perhaps easier to delineate what is not one. Some clients, having a rudimentary understanding of one or more foreign languages, insist on receiving a literal, word-for-word translation. (This is, oddly enough, particularly prevalent among engineers and other individuals with a technical background.) Such a translation is often better comprehended by people for whom it was not intended, i.e. non-native speakers, because it entails concepts and thought patterns that mean little to the native speaker. Telling someone that the budgeted funds are merely "a drop on a hot stone" or that ours is a "service performance undertaking" simply does not come across well. Rather, a good translation conveys as much of the meaning and the emotion of the original text as may be comprehended and sensed by a more or less foreign mind-set ― and in as few as or fewer words than the source. If that sounds difficult, you are absolutely right; that is why not just anyone can or should offer translation services.
Not every translation represents an intellectual or artistic feat, of course. Indeed, there is a great demand for translations of travel itineraries and fast-food restaurant menus. Whatever the challenge, we are open to accepting it, and at a price commensurate with the effort involved. Feel free to consult with us about your particular project.