6 Mistakes Professional Translators Make (And how to avoid them) سنتين ago

Translation is a tedious task! The entire process is much more than just typing in a different script. You may have the expertise to convert sentences from one language to another but a translator’s job is not confined to this ability only. Moreover, it’s a process of channelizing knowledge from one language to the other. And professional translators have to be very careful when it comes to imparting the same meaning in a different dialect.

There are various factors that are compulsory in translation jobs, one of them being aware of cultural, regional or organisational contexts of one language which usually vary from those of a different one. It is due to variable nuances of the same sentence in different languages, that we often witness weird translation blunders that embarrass not only the professionals but the end-user (for example, a client) as well.

Translator mistakes rise due to numerous reasons and are not just confined to the inadequate contextual insight of a certain target language, but extend to the approach and operational behaviour of a professional translator. Such mistakes are more likely to happen when it comes to those who are new to the intricacies of this job.

It is true that making mistakes is a human characteristic, but knowing the possible mistakes and ways to avoid them can definitely save a great deal of time and efforts for a professional. Keeping the same thought in mind…

We have brought you 6 mistakes that professional translators make and how to avoid them:

1. No Subject Specialization

You may have fluency in a couple of languages or more, but it doesn’t mean you can translate anything. It is important to focus on a specific niche. Know what areas you can work in. Having specialization in a specific subject minimises your chances of encountering unfamiliar words and context, that otherwise add up as an extra to your workload.

The key is to find which domain you are the most interested and have knowledge in. This way you can consolidate your authority in a particular field and build your credibility in the industry. For instance, a journalist with knowledge of multiple languages can work in publishing houses with multilingual versions of the same newspaper or magazine.

2. Neglecting latest trends in their niche

Words, phrases and their meanings evolve with time. New terms come up every year and their usage change too. This is why prominent dictionaries, such as Oxford has a multitude of new words included every year in its vocabulary register. Being a professional translator means having tight deadlines to meet, this often gives no time to keep track with new developments in one’s own niche. The best way to avoid such ignorance is to be updated with latest trends. For this, Social media is a great way to make yourself familiar with words and phrases that can fill your translated text with new and trending terminology.

3. Depending heavily on Past Experiences

New translators may have worked in language related domain, such as writing or education, but not in translation. Depending too much on past work experiences and existing knowledge may cause them to attempt major translation mistakes in a document. When they come across with a word (or a phrase) they do not completely understand, translators end up relying on their limited semantic awareness from past experiences.  It is often noted, that a minor misunderstanding of the context leads to major errors while translating a script. Thus, it is a big no for a translator to let go of any phrase without giving an accurate contextual form.

New professionals can avoid making such errors by simply asking the clients regarding the assigned document followed by a thorough cross checking with a proper online research on the topic.

4. Putting a stop to further learning

This is important!

Time, patience, expertise and a lot of efforts are the prerequisites of establishing your presence in your operating niche, but the list doesn’t end here. Many professionals avoid the fact that professional development doesn’t end with their qualification.

Translation industry is constantly developing with the passage of time.  Recently, it has been witnessing technological advancements that are useful in translation practices. Keep updated with new CAT tools (computer aided translation tools) and QA software. They are easily available on the web. In this internet savvy age, it would be a great risk to avoid technology in your professional development. Use the internet to enhance and speed up your work and its quality.

You can use latest CAT tools, learning new terminologies; check your content quality from online QA software. As it is said, “Learning is a lifetime project.”

5. Avoiding TEP (Translate-Edit-Proofread) and formatting

A professional translation service cannot afford grammatical or phrasal mistakes and hence a document should be revised (edited) and proof-read before delivering it to the client. A badly formatted document can be disastrous to your efforts even though you have delivered quality translation. So, format the file, before you hit send.

6. Ignoring special instructions

One should NEVER ignore any instructions given by a client. Pay attention to the glossary, or any specific format wanted or advised by them, and make sure you have added those words and format into your translated text. There are times when a client wants a selection of pages to be translated. Therefore, be attentive to the number or specificity of pages you will be asked to translate. Besides, if you have any doubts, contact your clients for a clear understanding of the subject matter.

Now that you know what you can avoid as a language translator, keep the aforementioned points in mind while translating a text and you are good to go!

Ever witnessed translation mistakes in public billboards or official documents? What did you as a translator learn from them? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below!

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