How to become a better translator

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Alina Cincan
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:44
Thank you May 31, 2013

Thank you for sharing our article.

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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
Good article May 31, 2013

exactly our approach.

Dictionaries are a good help, but (at least in our language pairs), they are not satisfactory when it comes to more touchy-feely stuff.

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Local time: 03:44
English to Albanian
+ ...
Language skills are acquired better if May 31, 2013

If you want to become better translator first you need to start learning your won language, your language's grammar and then start working in other language you want to become better translator.

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:44
English to Polish
+ ...
Command of languages, good writing, good QA May 31, 2013

Comprehension is undervalued these days, perhaps in line with the mindset created by (or the mindset that created) the rule that only native speakers of the target language should translate. You need some really great, sure-fire comprehension.

Naturally, you can't afford to use a broken patois of a target language, either. There is no absolute need for you to be native or near-native, but you need to use competently whatever grammar and syntax you do know. A bit of austerity related to being limited to B2 or even B1 isn't really that bad. Depending on the application, tiny mistakes or imperfections might not be the end of the world, either. However, ugly mistakes are something you can't afford in pretty much any situation.

Then, you need to be able to write. More importantly, however, you need some logical thinking. There are translators who just fail to understand or build a complex sentence. You don't want to be one of those translators.

Finally, everybody makes at least some proofreading mistakes without a double-check. Identify your issues and come up with your own QA checklist. Even if you aren't paid well enough to justify that, you're still better off putting in unpaid overtime than being exposed to reputational risks such as bad word of mouth or bad WWAs. Give yourself some serious proofreading or hire a proofreader and charge accordingly.

Avoid jobs that are so bothersome or unprofitable or both that your motivation will nose-dive and make you prone to botching the work. You're better off explaining your value than operating in the lowest price part of the market.

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