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Written by Gisela Plata

November 12, 2018

How to be a good translator

If you are fully dedicated to translation, whether for a company or as a freelancer. As your career progresses, you’ll notice your areas of improvement and what deficiencies or difficulties you have when working in an assignment.

No one can know you better than yourself, and if your goal is to become a professional translator and improve the quality of your work, pay attention to the mistakes and errors that you make when translating; for example, not knowing the terminology of your assignment, using the same words over and over again or the texts are so faithful to the original that the meaning is lost in the target language.

That’s why I want to give you some tips to improve and perfect your translation technique.

 

Daily Reading

Regardless of the languages you work with, the first step to become a good translator is to master your mother tongue. So it is essential for you to take some time every day to read, try to analyze the writing style and learn new words while at it. I suggest you to read good writers. Nowadays everyone can write a book and publish it thanks to the Internet, but not all people write correctly. Choose your authors wisely.

Also, it’s important to read different subjects and texts related to the area you are dedicated to. It’s quite to translate literature, to video games, advertising material, legal documents, or medical reports, because they all have different characteristics, such as format, vocabulary, style, formality, etc.

On the Internet you can find novels, short stories, journals, reports, bills, articles, laws, among other documents, that can help you increase your vocabulary and familiarize with the different idioms and expressions of each one.

You can also read about some particular subject, for example: Engineering, medicine, economics, sports, or art, especially, if you are interested in becoming an specialized translator in said subject.

 

Use resource materials

Reading every day will help you collect support material for future jobs and, for certain terms you can also use monolingual, bilingual, and specialized dictionaries.

A dictionary is not only useful when we need to investigate the meaning or translation of some technical terms, we can also use it to learn different ways to convey a concept, for example, by using binding words that we may not have known.

Good translators don’t have to know all the words and idioms in the world, but, they have to be prepared with all the resources and support material available to them. They have to be prepare in case the have to translate a text on a subject they don’t know much about.

 

When in doubt, use official sources of information

If you don’t know how to translate a certain term, concept or the official name of an organization, turn to official sources where you can get such information.

For example, if you are working with a text that mentions a United Nations program that already has an official translation. Th best thing to do is to go directly to their website and verify the translation they’ve used. The same goes for other organizations or companies. Use their resources to find their own terminology.

 

Reread and review

Whenever you finish a translation, take a few minutes off and then start rereading and revising carefully what you’ve translated. You should always read your work with a critical eye and, if possible, write down everything you need to improve in future translations.

With this you won’t only correct any possible error that you might have overlooked, but you’ll be able to improve some phrases and notice your strengths.

 

Practice

It’s understandable that, at the end of your day, the last thing you want to do is to keep translating documents (specially without pay). However, it’s always important to practice your trade so that you can be better and better.

There are different types of exercises On-line you can use to be a better translator. Some of them can be done in short time and at home, either with short sentences to translate or with sentences with mistakes to correct them.

You can also exercise your mind through creative writing, although it seems to be an exercise for another job, this will help you to write better and gain fluency.

These aren’t the only ways you can use to be a good translator. You can also achieve your goals of becoming a professional in the area by making the compromise to implement different strategies in order to maintain your strengths and improve your weak spots.

 

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