Whenever a group of linguists or polyglots are brought together and find themselves deep in conversation, the topic of translation often crops up. When asked about their ability to translate half the group maintains they can and do translate. The other half maintain they do not have the gift. What is this gift that they talk about?
Umberto Eco has written an interesting essay in which he discusses the gift. He mentions the gift of tongues, that is glossolalia – the ability to express oneself in ecstatic language that can be understood by everyone. However, a more accurate description of what translators might aim for is xenoglossia, that is the gift of speaking other languages, or polyglottism.
However, linguists do not necessarily mean glossolalia or xenoglossia, rather they mean an inherent ability to be better translators than other polyglots who would seemingly be equally predisposed to be competent translators. One may or may not have particular predispositions, however, hard work and experience cannot be discounted. Just because someone feels that he or she does not have the gift does not mean that he or she cannot translate.