When searching for a good translator, here are some key traits of a good translator that should be kept in mind when searching for one:
- Language ability and passion for text
- Skills or experience within a specialized field or various different fields
- A computer savvy personality
- Analytical person with a keen eye for detail
Let’s discuss these in turn:
Good translators are normally translators with experience. The same goes for language service providers in general. This experience goes far beyond just conveying one language into another. This experience entails knowing what problems can result if certain measures of action are not taken including the knowledge of how to meet requirements and how to define them.
Language ability and passion for text
It goes without saying that a translator has to deal with a lot of text. So, if you don’t like reading and text doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, please don’t become a translator because if you do, you won’t be a good one. Translators often show ability not only for the languages they translate from, but also for their native tongue and writing in general. In fact, many good translators show an appreciation for many languages. Usually, a person that is experienced in several different languages gains an insight and appreciation for language in general which supports the translation process, thus ensuring quality.
Skills or experience within a specialized field or various different fields
A legal translator is not necessarily a lawyer, but lawyers do make really great translators in the legal field when mixed with the aforementioned traits. The same goes for technical texts and engineers. So if you are not an engineer and you are not a lawyer, how are translators able to translate highly technical texts or highly legal texts efficiently? Well, this has to do with experience. By translating a lot of such texts, a great deal of research takes place and experts are in turn consulted on many occasions. In many cases, especially in the technical field, specialist courses are taken and books are read so that a basic understand of the field and the pertaining terminology is absorbed. The Internet has become an invaluable resource for translators of the modern age. Information is more readily available than it ever has been. This along with writing, writing and more writing enable translators to express the language sometimes even better than the specialists in some cases with respect to writing skills and style.
A computer savvy personality
Why are computer skills important to a translator? In today’s world, in addition to how the Internet can be tapped for information, the possibilities and resources available to translators is absolutely endless. This includes translation portals for networking and getting jobs to quality control possibilities spanning all the way to terminology and translations memories. Just think about how many different formats text is presented in, all of the different programs that are used to transfer text into all different forms of media. A translator that is not able to use a computer properly is not generally a very good translator. Please see my earlier posts on translation technology and CAT tools for more on this subject.
Analytical person with a keen eye for detail
Just think of how many keystrokes you actually have to type in order to amount to a single page of text. With every single touch of a button, there is the possibility of making an error. Think of how complex prepositions are and how many different ways there are to express the same thing using different phrasing, formulations, and synonyms. Mix all that in with style that tends to vary from person to person just to image how difficult it is to write a text, much less translate it. There is incredible room for error. The translator or language service provider is faced with the endless challenge of trying to make each and every text flawless in addition to meeting specific requirements. This trait is one of the most important ones. A translator without a keen eye for detail is a messy translator, and no one wants that.
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