Tips To Becoming A Good Professional Translator

Translation is a really big part of the world we live in today and more than we would like to think it has affected the entire world positively. I like to say that translation is the main reason why I can pack my bags and relocate to Spain with no fear in mind knowing very well I won’t have a problem communicating with the Spanish people. This has been made possible by a lot of applications that help translate speeches. Translation has aided the world in being a global village because now we can interact with each other without having language as a barrier.

We all know translation works are usually carried out by professionals known as translators. These professional translators might be human machines.

Human translator– These are human beings who have decided to take up translation as a career and do translation works to make a living.

Machine translator– Machine translators are software’s that are automated to created translation of different languages and a good example would be something like Google translate.

Both methods have their pros and cons and since we will look at tips to be a great human translator, we will briefly look at how they are better than machine translators.

  • Many people prefer using human translators with important translation while people use machine translators for work that is not as important.
  • Human translators produce super-accurate translation while for machine translators the vice versa is true.
  • Human translators can proofread and edit their translation works and that of machine translators because once machine translators are done with translating anything that is it.
  • Human translators usually spell check their translation while machine translators don’t.

This is not to say that machine translators are not good, this is only to put emphasis on how human translators are usually the better option always.

Have you ever wondered what really makes a translator good or bad at what they do?

Is it their understanding of a language or is it their level of experience?

Is it because of the fluency in both language pairs or their capacity of understanding?

These are questions I will answer in this article and before we end, you will already know some important tips that can make you an excellent translator too. One of the most important tips, before I get down to it, is your proficiency with your language pairs. It is such an important trait to be proficient in your pair languages because it gives you an upper hand and makes things really easy for you as you translate.

In a world where anyone can be a translator and a good one at that, these are the tips that will make you a better one: –

Tips That Will Make You A Translator

1. Read in Your Native Language

Reading in your native language will be the best thing you do for yourself as a translator. This is firstly important because most of your translation works will be to your native language. Having a great understanding of your native language means that your translation will be on point and accurate all the time. This will also help in exposing you to different techniques of writing which is a skill that is needed for translators. It will also give you more knowledge on some cultural, linguistic, and technical aspects of your language and all these are important factors that will make you a better translator.

2. Read in Your Second Language

What we mean by the second language, is the language that you understand and speak fluently apart from your native language which is usually referred to as your mother tongue. Reading up on your second language, allows you to tap into life scenarios of that language’s culture. It also gives you an eye into understanding how that language is used in different scenarios, the expression one would use in different instances, words that mean a particular thing, and so on and so forth. This means that this will help in boosting your language skills which is an integral part of translation.

3. Compare Other Translations

This doesn’t mean copy and paste this only means that you can borrow a thing or two, learn a thing or two when you compare yourself with other translators, and try to improve where you are struggling. This means that other translators inspire you to be a better translator. You can take peeks at your fellow translators’ works, preferably the ones who have honed their crafts and have years of experience in the industry. This will help you find new meaning hidden behind words. Take both the source and the target texts to see how other translators have handled the message of the book or article. Analyze their choices and try to identify the reasons the translator omitted or emphasize specific details of the text.

4. Travel

People always say, travel the world and you will never be the same. This statement usually has a positive connotation to it and it is true in every sense. Traveling changes your way of seeing new cultures and handling life situations. It allows you to meet different people and know them from the inside. Being exposed to different cultures and dialects is amazing for translators because then, it makes it possible for you to use that when you have to do translations for a language in which you have explored fully about. Also, traveling allows you to exercise your language skills out of your usual comfort.

5. Listen to Your Clients

The client is always right, well not all the time but they know exactly what they need for their projects to be perfect. They will always start out letting you know what they expect of you, what they need, and how they need it. You should always listen to them and keenly so that you don’t miss anything if you must take down notes. Listening to your clients and ensuring you deliver as per their request will push your career further and further. This is because the translation industry work with referrals, you have the best chances of a client referring you to another client if you can deliver perfectly translated files.

6. Build a Rich Translation Memory

For the longest time, translators would only rely on their general knowledge or go as far as using a dictionary in order to do great translation works. In 2020 the developments in society, have enabled translators to rely on them and make their work really easy. Technology enables translators to store all their projects and use previous work to speed up future projects. Use CAT tools to build a solid translation memory and store your knowledge. This way, you can improve the quality of your translations, while working faster and with lower costs. This has made translation works really easy and efficient for sure.

7. Go to Industry Events

Different careers usually have events where professions get connections with different people and the same is applicable for the translation career. This is where you connect with other translators and create a network of people in the same industry as you are. These are also the places where you meet potential clients and collaborators. You will learn a thing or two about what’s new in your career, how things are changing if you are on the right path, and all that good stuff. These events usually give you a full circle moment on that you can analyze the industry you are in fully, and change to get your career on the right path. You’ll learn about new trends, innovative translation tools, and better marketing techniques to get clients.   

8. Stay Updated About the Latest Technology

In 2020, technology is a game changer in every aspect of life. We are living in a digital world and making technology work for you or finding ways in which technology benefits your career is something that you should do as a translator. There are technological tools that help in innovating your craft and make you manage and deliver impeccably on your work. There is a lot of reading material on the interweb, there are software’s that are being introduced every other year that would help in making your translation work really easy and you must be able to make them work for you if you want to be better at what you do.

9. Exercise

Exercising is a cost-effective way of boosting your creativity. It reduces stress levels, helps you stay focused, improves your memory, and helps you become more productive. 

10. Ask for Help

No man is an island and from time to time you might need help to get your next client, help on certain vocabularies, and any help that you might need. You should be able to ask for help because be rest assured it will be given. They say teamwork makes the dream work, and that’s the absolute truth.

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