How to improve translation skill!
Thread poster: suchitrac9

suchitrac9
India
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Jul 23

I still remember my first translation assignment. I was in college and landed up in a freelancing job of translating certain IT specifications. I simply translated what was written in Japanese, without really understanding the meaning and going back and checking if it is really making sense.

I must say it has been a long journey from translating that IT specification to managing a team of translators today!

As a translator, we hold much greater responsibility than the person actually using the document or specifications, which we have translated. Imagine an actor, simply narrating the lines without appropriate emotions in it. Will you enjoy the performance? There will be no connect with the character he is playing, let alone the audience!

In the same way, if we simply translate what is scribbled, we are not justifying the intent with which the document has been written.

Step 1 for a translator is, to understand the topic that you are translating, what it is about, what it contains. If possible, try to get an overview from the concerned stakeholders. Then comes the translation as step 2. But remember, once you have translated a sentence, the next sentence should flow from the former, previous sentence. This is step 3. The entire translation should be in proper synchronization and should be consistent. To maintain consistency, it is suggested to prepare a Glossary list and have it handy.

Try this 1-2-3 mode and let me know if it has changed anything in your translation quality!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I disagree (I think) Jul 23

I almost never begin a translation at the beginning and work through it sentence by sentence until I get to the end.

I choose parts of it, almost at random, gradually building up the whole translation. In fact there may be an idea in the text that only emerges as the discourse progresses. I need to know that at the beginning. Or there may be terms that have been given a particular nuance that might not be evident if you just begin at the beginning.

So I disagree with the King (in Alice in Wonderland) who said “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Wrong !

[Edited at 2018-07-23 11:59 GMT]


Anthony Teixeira
Paulinho Fonseca
Angus Stewart
 

Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:17
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It basically depends on the area. Jul 23

As a technical translator, I might take different steps and procedures. Translation is such a vast universe of fields that a frame would not fit for all purposes.

neilmac
Valérie Ourset
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I‘m old-fashioned! Jul 23

I always begin by printing the whole text and reading it, whatever its length, and by underlining or color marking the words or expressions that are unknown to me or sound “strange” in the context and need further work. Next step is to research a good translation for those words or expressions. Sometimes a take notes on the page, others I build a glossary. Then I’ll start translating from the beginning and I’ll edit the glossary along the way if need be. After that, I’ll read the text several times, the last one aloud (deadline permitting)…

Valérie Ourset
Daryo
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Read, read, read! ... in both languages Jul 23

For me the, translation process goes like this:
(idea stated in L1) > (concept and meaning in mind) > (idea stated in L2)

This is the only way to do it.
If you intend to translate word by word, and then fix the grammar, machine translation can do it much faster.

If you read a lot, you'll exercise your skill in converting words into ideas, you'll see how people encoded ideas in words, since telepathy is not an option.


Michele Fauble
 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:17
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Interesting topic Jul 23

I never thought people would go about translating in such different ways. I do have a habit of reading bits and pieces here and there and not in any chronological order like TOM here but I had thought this was a bad habit even if I could gather the general sense more quickly and a habit to get rid of. I cannot read all the text throughout when it is too long or print the text as I would be afraid of not finishing in time but, maybe, I would finish it quicker seeing I get a better grasp of the gist. I'll try these methods out though. It's good to see how other people work though I cannot imagine me working this way if t=it is a technical, medical text.

 

Eva Stoppa  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:17
Member
English to German
+ ...
Definitely an interesting topic Jul 24

[quote]suchitrac9 wrote:

Step 1 for a translator is, to understand the topic that you are translating, what it is about, what it contains. If possible, try to get an overview from the concerned stakeholders. quote]

I remember a professor back in college giving us a very difficult text to translate for students in second year. He told us we need to prepare for such texts since, in professional life, we mostly would have to deal with texts we don't understand.

What do you think of this theory?


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
We can't know everything Jul 24

Eva Stoppa wrote:
I remember a professor back in college giving us a very difficult text to translate for students in second year. He told us we need to prepare for such texts since, in professional life, we mostly would have to deal with texts we don't understand.


Great idea. Although in my experience translation students generally don't understand basic texts either!

I specialise in economics, and I know a lot about economics, but I can't possibly know everything. Crucially, though, I think I know enough to know when I don't know something.

In any field, you will inevitably reach a point where no translator will fully understand what is going on. So who's going to translate that? And what about texts that mix up different fields?


Josephine Cassar
Michele Fauble
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Knowing and understanding... Jul 24

On another note: I used to translate articles published by “The Economist” for a Portuguese weekly newspaper (we part ways when after a few years the client decided that my rates were too high and I refused to lower them) and a funny thing happened almost without exception: I knew the subject matter and I understood every word but striking a good balance between the readability and flow of the translation and the preservation of the original was quite challenging…

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Q: What's in a tourist guide? Jul 24

A: There's probably a bit about the architecture of the local area throughout history (churches in all the different styles, etc); maybe there's a lake with all sorts of fish (who's an expert on fish names in their own language, let alone two languages?); then there are the sports that take place on that lake, and maybe on the surrounding slopes - perhaps extreme sports that are really quite new; then there are the local industries, perhaps wine with all its terminology or something that not many people know much about, such as mining; add to that the geography of the area, and any important historical events that took place there, famous people who were born or moved there, and local customs and traditions, and you need a translator who's an expert in a wide range of normally separate disciplines, or one who's an expert researcher.

Of course, it isn't enough to do your research and come up with accurate translations of the terms. You're supposed to make the text sound really inviting and interesting so that tourists will be encouraged to visit and spend their money there.

And that's in the supposedly "easy and straightforward" tourism sector where rates are generally low icon_frown.gif .

Chris S wrote:
what about texts that mix up different fields?


Chris S
Rachel Waddington
Angus Stewart
Michele Fauble
Valérie Ourset
Elena Aclasto
 


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