Student ≠ Student

One usage that I’ve found myself repeatedly explaining to clients in higher education is that Swedish “student” has a different connotation from the English term.

“Student” in Swedish refers to bachelor (kandidat) and master’s students (magister/masters). It is generally not used for doctoral students (doktorander). The reason for this is that doktorander are considered employees. Granted, their job is to study and research, but for Swedish speakers they are not included in the student category. The problem of course arises when a client wants me to translate “studenter och doktorander” to “students and doctoral students”. This is redundant to English speakers and seems like an inadvertent incorrect usage. I will often translate this phrase as simply “students” or as “bachelor, master’s and doctoral students” if I feel the distinction is important for the context, but both of these regularly get complaints from clients.

The solution is, naturally, to inform the client about the correct usage. But I find it an uphill battle and tiresome since there is always a new person on the client’s end interjecting on the usage.

Such is the life of the translator.

My thanks to the ELPS Monday morning online fika group for input on this discussion.