Characteristics of a Quality Translator

February 21st, 2015

Translation is important in our global world, so we ask the question, ‘what makes a quality translator’?

Characteristics of a Quality Translator | One Hour Translation

Many people around the world know multiple languages, and have even learned them from birth. This offers them great opportunities to progress in their personal and professional lives, however not everyone who understands multiple languages can become a quality translator.

The profession of translation should never be understated, because it offers truly valuable skills and aids clear and consistent communication between linguistically diverse communities. Translators are involved in conducting major business deals, negotiating peace treaties, and supporting governments in providing foreign aid. A single translator can be in an extremely powerful position, and it is essential that they take their roles seriously.

A True Understanding of Translation

The first characteristic of a quality translator is a true understanding of translation, and that the knowledge of two languages does not instantly provide you with the skills to translate correctly. Translators need to be highly reflective about the culture and the meaning behind the words that they are using. A simple word that is not accurately translated can have a detrimental effect on all people involved. A quality translator will have a deep understanding of their professional responsibilities, and never take them lightly.

A Professional Attitude and Conduct

Like any professional, a translator must have excellent work ethics, a genuine commitment to their clients, a positive attitude and superior conduct. A poor quality translator will fall behind on deadlines, rush through their work, and be careless with mistakes. A high quality translator will always respect their position, take pride in their work and strive to attain high standards every step of the way.

Understanding Limits and Capabilities

Each translator will have a different social, cultural and linguistic background, and this will be evident in their work. Not all translators are the same, or are right for every job, and a high quality translator will know what their own personal and professional limits are and communicate these without hesitation.

A client who hires a translator should feel confident that the translator will not step beyond their professional boundaries and agree to undertake work that they are not competent in. For example, when a translator is at the early stages of teaching themselves a new language, they should not accept translation assignments in this language because they are not yet fluent.

Other limits include knowledge of the subject matter as translation assignments may include technical jargon, legal advice, scientific terms, or complex theories. For an accurate translation a translator must be comfortable with the topics being addressed.

Any person or business who is seeking to hire a quality translator should expect honesty, integrity and superior work. They should even ask questions about the translator before they start the job, including their linguistic capabilities, their familiarity with the subject matter and their expected turnaround time. Seeking out a quality translator is important, for any person who desires a quality result.

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