From my experience and my perspective, the translator knows everything without being an expert in all topics he/she translates. It is the duty of the translator to look for different topics that his/her clients propose him/her in each work.
I have to confess that acquiring new vocabulary, reading about the different topics to make a good translation, I’m passionate about it, since the translation’s jobs are as diverses as the clients.
We inform ourselves and we keep up to date when we’re looking for the terms more accurate to the document that’s going to be translated.
As Umberto Eco said, we try to say almost the same in the target language. And we also have to be at the forefront in orthographic rules, in syntax and grammar, to apply them properly in our work.
As you see, being translator is not just learning a second language, it is much more than that: studying constantly, reading and applying what you have learned.
And also I remember that before finding my vocation lin translation, many people told me: “translation is an easy field, the language is not as complex as exact sciences”. I can say with certainly: “translation is not so simple” “it has its complexity in its way” “the language can be as complex and a pain in the neck as exact sciences.
This question I have raised to myself many times, thanks to which many people think that translation and interpretation are the same. Because of my university background I can tell you; at the university I have received more training as a translator than interpreter.
The interpreter is one who has very developed oral skills. This does not mean that I’m not able to express myself in other language different to my mother tongue, to have an informal conversation with my friends, to make an exposition about my points of view, to ask for information or introduce myself. I can not translate simultaneously when someone speaks in English to Spanish, and that would be a disadvantage if I’ll work as interpreter, since they do it efficiently. There are people who develop both skills (written and oral skills), in my case it does not happen, because I’m introverted, my written skills are much better, my reading compression is very good.
I personally do not see it so bad. I prefer to specialize and perfect my written skills, to make impeccable and professional translations as far as possible; although I’m not sworn translator (that is another subject, I’ll speak later in detail
So if you ask me again, my answer is: I am a translator, I am proud to be one and I translate with excellent quality to show not only my skills, but the love for what I do too.