How to Improve Written Translations

By: Bianca Buswell

Doing translations is often believed by many as an easy process that anyone who knows a second language can do. They perceive translation work as nothing more than changing words from the source text into its equivalent targeted foreign language. Little do they know that when doing translations, one also has to consider the literal meaning of the phrase - not just the word - in order to convey the accurate message of a document. Translation is undoubtedly a complicated process, but with the proper guidelines it can be rewarding and enjoyable to both novice and professional translators.

Understand the document being translated. Translations that involve written documents are entirely different from other types of translations. A document or content translator doesn't have to be hasty. He needs to take his time to thoroughly read and understand the text he is about to translate. After reading the whole document from start to finish, he should relax - or possibly sleep - before translating. A translator needs a good rest so he can fully absorb the message of the source language. To avoid any form of mistake, a translator can consult a dictionary or ask the opinion of other specialists.

Write Clearly. Translations need not be fancy. A translator should consider the literal meaning of words. He should express meanings clearly by using uncomplicated sentence structures and by avoiding idioms, slang words or colloquial expressions. If possible, a translator should also avoid using complicated punctuation marks such as parenthesis and hyphens, or abbreviations unless they are really necessary. A translator should constantly review his work for possible ambiguous terms and phrases.

Know your limit. There is simply no such thing as an all-around translator. While it is true that translators need to be confident, it is also true that they need to be humble enough to admit their limits if they want to produce translations that are accurate and clear. Ideally, every translator should stick to documents that need to be translated to his own native tongue.

Read the document again. Translations that contain incorrect spelling or grammar can be dangerous. One can just imagine the damage a wrongly translated medical document can cause. A translator should read his work the day after completing it. Again, just like what he did before starting the project, he should take some time to rest before editing. Going through every word, sentence and paragraph can be time consuming, but it makes the difference between an excellently translated document and an inferior one.

There are many translations software packages that are available in the Internet that can help in the editing and proofreading of documents. Translators, however, should remember that translation computer software can only process common words and phrases.

With these translation tips, a translator can now convey an organization's message accurately to its target market. He is no longer deterred by any barriers in translations. He can now be a powerful business partner who can define the needs of an organization even before a single word is translated.

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