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Poll: Most important quality for a translator:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:03
SITE STAFF
Jun 9, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Most important quality for a translator:".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Anne Goff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:03
French to English
+ ...
Love of Words Jun 10, 2007

I hesitated between a lot of the options because I think they're all important, but I settled on Love of Words, because I think if you have that you'll have a lot of the others.

Love of Words will fuel imagination, encourage dedication, help you stick with it long enough to have experience...


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bests... Mosts... Greatests... Jun 10, 2007

Do people really look at the world that way? I always find such questions slightly baffling.

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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
professions within a profession Jun 10, 2007

It depends. If you translate legal/financial documents then discipline is likely to be more important than "love of words". If you're a literary translator, I doubt you'll get very far without it.

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Béatrice Huret-Morton  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Clairvoyance Jun 10, 2007

Experience has taught me the best quality for a translator is definitely clairvoyance.

Oftentimes you need the ability to read the writer's mind when they're miles away, so you can translate what they actually meant to say.

Remember translation is not translating words but ideas.

Second best quality is to be rigorous.

Cheers,

Béa


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Voted Other: All of those factors and many more... Jun 10, 2007

...are equally important in my opinion.

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Monika Jakacka Márquez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2006)
Polish to Spanish
+ ...
Other: CARE FOR THE DETAILS Jun 10, 2007

Sometimes it's confused with perfectionism, but it's not the same.

A translator should be very well organized, have a quite good memory and, over all, pay a lot of attention to the details of the translation he/she is carrying out.

Regards,

M.


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lingomania
Local time: 05:03
Italian to English
Love for his/her work Jun 10, 2007

This is the first thing. It's the same for all professions really, but if you don't like spending long hrs looking up terms, etc. you might as well change job. It's a challenging profession and that is exactly what you must love....the challenge. Then comes all the rest: patience, experience, etc.

Rob


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
French to English
+ ...
what about intelligence? Jun 10, 2007

You can't get very far in translation without a certain level of intelligence. All the 'love of words' in the world won't help if you don't have the resources to know how to handle them.

Defining 'intelligence' is another matter, however...


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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:03
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
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Love of words? Jun 10, 2007

Angela Dickson wrote:


You can't get very far in translation without a certain level of intelligence. All the 'love of words' in the world won't help if you don't have the resources to know how to handle them.

Defining 'intelligence' is another matter, however...


I agree with you, Angela. I think most of all intelligence and discipline are essential for our profession. I’m surprised that so far 26% have replied “love of words”. What does this mean, really? I love languages and I enjoy translating. I love what I do, but I had never thought or heard that the most important quality for a translator was just “love of words”!? Forgive my ignorance, maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t believe this!


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:03
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Other Jun 10, 2007

Curiosity and capacity to research on a subject.
And, say, at the same level, a thorough knowledge of your mothertongue.

These are the most important factors to me, although all the other are important too, of course.


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Other: Honesty Jun 10, 2007

As for all professions (except the criminal ones of course).

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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 16:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Love of words Jun 10, 2007

Angela Dickson wrote:


You can't get very far in translation without a certain level of intelligence. All the 'love of words' in the world won't help if you don't have the resources to know how to handle them.

Defining 'intelligence' is another matter, however...


Exactly!
'General culture' was an option missing in the list. I think this is also a key quality for translators.

Nice poll!

Au

[Edited at 2007-06-10 15:32]


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Valery Kaminski  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 22:03
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Knowledge and linguistic intuition Jun 10, 2007

I was at a loss what to choose, then I realized the options here are really numerous. Still, my firm belief is one needs the mentioned in the headline knowledge and linguistic intuition (clairvoyance?) to be a translator.
Intelligence (ability to get that knowledge in place!) and openness to new knowledge are also of great importance.
They are crucial, they are the foundation for exellence brought about later by experience and professionalism.

Imagination? Great, but you must keep it controlled, otherwise the author might have problems recognizing his/her "masterpiece".

Love of words? I shared a room while at University with a guy from the Spanish faculty. "Love" is not quite the right word in his case - that was more like obsession. He owned dictionaries (very hard to get in the Soviet times) in up to 20 languages - Chinese-Russian, Persian-Russian, Hindi-Russian, Arabic-Russian, Vietnamese-Russian etc etc.
He got expelled for failing his Spanish exam in the second year

Valery




[Редактировалось 2007-06-10 15:42]


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Nicholas Ferreira  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dedication and Search for Perfection Jun 10, 2007

I think in this work, as in most jobs, what is needed is dedication to push oneself to be the best translator possible, to constantly improve and do better each time, to build on the past in order to excel in the future.

As well in translation, I find it so important to seek perfection in what we do, not to be satisfied with a mediocre translation when we can do that little bit extra to ensure we use the right nuance to express the writer's word choice, the proper verb tense, accurate punctuation and capitalization, etc.

And the ProZ.com community has been so helpful in both these 2 points: first, most everyone here in "the translator's workplace" is so dedicated to what they do and they do it well. Second, it is clear from the KudoZ questions that mediocrity and wishy-washy translations are not an option for most ProZers.

Thanks everyone for being such an inspiration to me!


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