The job of a translator is both interesting and challenging and requires a certain set of skills and qualities in order to be performed. If you are professional in the field, you are aware that you cannot stop developing and learning new things if you want to deliver a top-notch end product.
Some of the best practices associated with translation tackle the overall process from receiving the text, to the methods of translation and communication with the client. Others are related to the best tools that you can use or give advice about time management, glossary keeping, etc.
Below you will find a few tips and tricks that can help you get better in your profession and will guarantee you consistent, high quality translations.
What is a “Best Practice” in Terms of Translation?
The idea of “best practice” is a concept that is used in every field of work. According to the definition: A best practice is a method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements.
It can be summarized that a best practice defines an interaction that is welcomed and is considered good by both the buyer and the provider. This means that one of the best practices is to learn to say “no” and never accept a project that you are unable to finish in an excellent manner and on time. Thus, you will be valued by the clients for your consistent, high-quality performance. There are, however, a few exceptions: sometimes you are the only one who would be able to translate a given text from a foreign language and even if your translation is not perfect, it is better than nothing at all. Make sure though, that this is an exception to your rule to turn down projects that are not within your competence.
Another good practice that has been established lately is to ask for assistance from the professional community. This is possible due to the internet’s numerous professional sites, forums and other social media used by translators. You can ask for help for the translation of a specific term or explanation of a given abbreviation or notion.
Translators typically translate into their mother tongue. Very rarely they will do a translation into the foreign language they speak and if they do, the text should be proofread by a qualified native speaker to guarantee the quality of the work.
Other good advice to follow is to always keep yourself educated .
Essential Qualities of a Good Translator
In addition to applying the best practices in the field, a good translator needs to have specific qualities and skills in order to provide first-rate translations. Here are a few of the most essential ones:
- Love for languages – this includes love for the mother tongue as well
- Drive for writing – since your job is to write text, it will be better if writing in general makes you happy
- Ability to write well – you need to be aware of the vocabulary, grammar, punctuation of both the source and the target languages
- Specialization in certain area – if you have studied some other subject at college or university you can focus on translating documents in this field
- Curiosity – this is one of the most valued features of a translator or interpreter – to be curious about the world, to listen to radio, watch TV, keep track of the current affairs and new technologies. It is especially efficient if you continue developing in the field you have chosen to specialize in
- Passion for reading – if you love reading, you will improve the knowledge of all languages you speak. So, read every day – books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, style guides, even the instructions on the packages of the goods you buy
- Responsibility – last but not least this is one of the highly valued qualities of the professional translator. They will approach the job and finalize it with the required professionalism and seriousness
The above-listed qualities are always accompanied by professional training and respective qualification.
10 Tips for Quality Translation
As a trained professional in the field of translation you are determined to provide consistent high-level translations. In order to do that you can use some of the following tips:
- Read the text before you start translating it so that you get understand its’ central theme
- Determine the text type (birth certificate, contract, financial report) and look for similar texts online that can help you with the translation
- Assemble all references that you have both in written or digital form
- Use the glossary that you have received from the client, if any, or if you have compiled one on the given topic from previous translations
- Use high-quality bilingual dictionaries and a thesaurus
- Always type with your autocorrection turned on so that you can easily detect any mistakes
- Once you translate the text give yourself a break before proofreading it
- Read the text carefully to check it for any typos or other mistakes
- Compare the translated version with the original text to check for any omissions
- Read the translation one final time before sending it in
These 10 tips are quite easy to follow but at the same time will make your translation process much smoother. With time it will turn into a routine and you will follow them without even trying.
Whether you are a translator, working for an agency, or are a freelancer, the tips and ideas above will help you work more efficiently and provide higher quality translations within the given deadline. Remember that practice makes perfect so with time these tips will become an integral part of your work routine and both you and your customers will be happy with the excellent translations you turn in.