There’s really no such thing as a perfect translation; it just doesn’t exist. But what is important is that the syntax, the terminology, and the flow of the text is such that it sounds like it was originally written in the target language.
This article should be quite helpful for people just beginning their career in translation because it’s very important to be organized prior to commencing a translation. Below you’ll find our handy guide to follow, hopefully to make your job a whole lot easier.
- Have all the necessary reference material close at hand: things like glossaries and good dictionaries.
- Make effective use of your time: don’t spend all your allotted time translating. You must leave time for editing, and never, ever deliver a translation without having reviewed it.
- Highlight all the words that you need to look up: this way you can look them all up at the same time so as to not continuously interrupt the translation process. To begin with, use a monolingual dictionary to look up the words you don’t understand; then afterwards you can look for appropriate translations in your resources.
- Investigating proper nouns deserves its own step. Ensure that all the names of the people mentioned are spelt correctly – just because it’s in the original text doesn’t mean it’s correct. This same rule applies for time periods, geographical names, historical movements, and so on.
- If you’re having a difficult time translating, try to not get stuck on specific words. Ideally you should leave a provisional translation (you may choose to highlight this with a different color, for instance, pink) and return to that word later when you have more context: this could help you achieve the desired translation. Don’t leave blank spaces, X’s, or question marks that could well go unnoticed when you make your final delivery. As we all know, when you’re under pressure these little errors can easily be missed.
- Translating by levels of difficulty. You may find that certain paragraphs are easier than others, so start with those. There are no hard and fast rules about how a translation should be completed, so it doesn’t have to be linear. If some parts appear difficult to start with, go straight to the end of the text and work on that section – doing it this way will probably shed more light on the topic. And again we reiterate that your goal should be to never leave anything incomplete or blank, so once you’ve finished with the easier layers of text, move immediately on to the more complex ones.
- Don’t translate in autopilot mode. By this we mean that, unless you are sure that it was the author’s intention to write portion of the text in a weird or ironic way, don’t use the first translation you find in a bilingual dictionary when you can see immediately that it doesn’t really fit with the given context.