A good translator is always needed, anywhere in the world. The demand is high and it makes this job valuable for anyone who has some translation skills. There are several things to consider when you decided to become a full-time or a freelance translator. One of the most important things is the continuous improvement of your skills.
Improving Your Translation Skills
There are four general skills to master for any translator who begins his/her work in the field of translation.
- Reading Comprehension
- Analytical Skills
- Composing Skills
Simply reading a text is, in itself, an act of translation. While you are translating, you do not think as your activity as being broken down into phases. After doing your first translation, many automatic mechanisms come into play that allow you to translate more quickly; at the same time, you are less and less conscious of your activity. There are some basic reading comprehension skills that every translator needs to master:
- Search for gist and main ideas
- Read for details
- Identify the meaning of new words and expressions using one or more components of the structural analysis clause; punctuation, prefixes, suffixes, roots, word order, etc.
- Find the meaning of new words and expressions using one or more contextual analysis.
- Identify the writer’s style: Scientific, Technical, Informative, Persuasive, etc.
The simplest thing to do when you don’t know the meaning of a word is to look it up in the dictionary. What every translator should know is that there are different kinds of dictionaries, such as: a bilingual dictionary, a dictionary on a historical basis, dictionaries of current English, dictionaries of idioms, specialized dictionaries (dictionaries of common errors, dictionaries of idiomatic usage, slang dictionaries, technical dictionaries) encyclopedic dictionaries, dictionaries of neologisms, and monolingual dictionaries. Nowadays, it’s getting even easier to find the meaning of new words or even expressions, thanks to free translation software and tools that you can find online. The utilization of the translation tools is truly important to save your time and leverage the quality of your work.
There are two important stages in the translation process: Analysis Stage and Synthesis Stage. During the analysis stage, the translator refers to the prototext (original text) in order to understand it as fully as possible. The synthesis stage is the one in which the prototext is projected onto the reader, or rather, onto the idea that the translator forms of who will be the most likely reader of the metatext (transformed text).
Every translator needs to know the following ideas in the analysis stage:
- Find beginnings and endings of ideas in the texts & the relationships between those ideas.
- Find the best meaning that fits into the context
- Search for the structure in the target language that best represents the original
- Search for transitions between ideas and the best connectors in the target language that represent the original.
This is the part where you channel the results of all those three skills above into writings.
In order to make your composition coherent within itself, you need to follow these ideas:
- Use correct word order and grammar as used in the target language.
- Convey the ideas of the text in clear sentences in the target language properly.
- Rephrase certain sentences to communicate the overall meaning translated.
- Make the text sounds normal in the target language without distorting the original ideas.
- Always use all the translation tools to help you create a good result.
The skills described above are ideas to help you become a good translator. The ideas presented in this article represent just the basic level for beginner translators. However, advanced and professional translators may find them relevant as well.