Translation is not an easy task. Any expert will tell you that there is much more to this than simply doing a literal word for word changing of the source text or spoken word into the equivalent of another language. There are words and phrases that often have no literal translation, or at least not anything that would make sense. This means that a translator needs to be knowledgeable and well trained in both the source and target language. Here are some useful tips.
You must always translate with your target language and audience in mind. This means considering the culture and actually thinking about the phrases and puns used. Ask yourself if they will be understood in the way the writer or speaker intended. Special care needs to be taken in regard to acronyms, word-plays, and national contexts.
Obviously, this is a tip for written translation, but it is surprisingly often ignored. Be sure to check for omitted words, spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, and anything else that just simply does not look right. Mistakes can make both you and your company look bad, since this is supposed to be a professional service. After proofreading once, go back through the documents again, just to make sure.
#3—Leave Room For Expansion:
If you are translating from English to another language, it will often require more words to convey the same meaning. This means that you need to be careful to leave room for more words with product labels and things of this nature. If the original document or text was only 200 words, it might end up being 350 words or so when translated into the target language.
#4—Focus On The Meanings:
Instead of trying to produce a translation (whether oral or written) that is based on a word for word conversion, focus on the meanings which are to be conveyed. Not only will this make your translation much more clear, it will also give you the most latitude for being able to clarify different phrases, puns, and other things which have significantly different meanings from language to language and culture to culture. This will also allow you to pay attention to the various nuances of both languages as you are translating, which will also make you more effective.
#5—Choose Your Projects Carefully:
This one falls under the general idea of having good business sense. Some translation jobs and project are for highly technical product specifications or may involve lengthy texts of legal documents. If you do not feel confident in your ability to handle that, or you have have limited experience in that area, there is no shame in turning down a project. This also means that you do not accept projects with what would be considered impossible deadlines or other restrictions that make it very difficult to complete.
Translation is a very technical and detail-oriented type of work. In order to be successful, you really need to keep in mind the end goal and what your client is ultimately looking for. You need to also have experience with both the source and target languages including enough knowledge of both cultures to be able to convey the meaning rather than just simply performing a literal word-for-word translation. Keep in mind the above 5 translation tips from the experts and should you be well on the way to success in this field.
Written by Andy Werner of The Language Link of Connecticut, a company that is passionate about languages and has the resources to meet your translation needs.