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How to Find a Good Translator

Summary: To find a good translator, you must recognize that translating is complex. You can choose from good, fast, cheap. But only two.

What are the Qualities of a Good Translator

So, you need to find a translator. Choosing a good translator is essential for individuals, businesses, government agencies, law firms, e-commerce sites, and much more. A bad translation can cost a company millions or prevent a person from obtaining a visa or citizenship. With such high stakes, it’s vital to find a translator that not only meets your needs but is an expert in your specific translation area. Before looking at how to get a good translator, you must know the elements of a good translation and the different types.

Elements of a Good Translation?

It is easy to spot a bad translation but challenging to spot a good translation. In a quality translation, the message, tone, and language work in harmony. The text feels natural to the target audience, and there are no spelling or grammatical errors. To find a translator that meets your needs, you must first recognize that the act of translation is complex and diverse.

Types of Translation

These days, the number of translation types is infinite and as broad as human knowledge itself. Despite that grandiose thought, the type of translation you likely require will be specific to your industry. Each industry has its own terminology, structures, and language rules. A quality translator should be an industry expert rather than a jack of all trades. Some of the most common types of translations include:
Literary Translation: The translation of literary works such as poems, novels, poems, stories, and plays. The “Famous Translators” article series, showcase literary translations that were a cultural catalyst throughout history.
Technical Translation: The translation of technical documents such as reports, financial statements, meeting minutes, and other text requiring industry knowledge of both the source and target language.
Software Translation: Usability-focused translation of all language within software programs, including microcopy, onboarding, error messages, and help systems.
Legal Translations: The translation of legal documents often requires certification for submission to legal bodies, USCIS, or government agencies. Documents include treaties, wills, birth certificates, memorandums, and more.
A translator that is skilled in SEO Translation would be ineffective at translating medical research. But, the characteristics of a good translator are all the same.

Characteristics of a Good Translator

Knowing two languages does not mean a person is an effective translator. Good translator qualities start with a strong command of both the source and target languages. Just knowing grammar rules, however, is not enough. What sets a good translator apart is cultural awareness of both languages and the ability to convey the message and tone.
The Italian expression, “traduttore, traditore,” meaning, “translator, traitor,” sums up the caution you should take when selecting a translator.

Six Qualities of a Good translator are:

  1. Native in the Target Language: A translator fluent in the source and native in the target language is a must for any translation. This ensures the translation will sound natural to the audience.

  2. Passionate: A translator should be passionate about the subject matter and use all available resources. They must focus on producing a translation faithful to the original meaning.

  3. Extensive Vocabulary: Translating technical language is often the job of a translator, and they must have a rich vocabulary in their chosen translation industry.

  4. Qualified: A degree in translating is not a guarantee of quality. You should keep an eye out for both translation degrees and the number of years of experience. A non-degreed translator with 20 years of experience and an excellent client list might end up being the best bet.

  5. Utilizes Resources: No single person can know every term and cultural idiom. A good translator will use the resources at hand, whether dictionaries, reference guides, or even other translators.

  6. Writing: A translator must read a passage and translate its meaning using correct spelling and grammar. To do this effectively, translators must be great writers.

Although these are the characteristics of a good translator, relying on a single person is often a mistake. Translation services scout out and vet individuals, so you don’t have to.

Find a Translation Service

The best translation services have a model grounded in human translation. We are not yet in an era where Machine Translation beats humans, particularly when it comes to technical material. A collaborative human approach can reduce costs and time while also increasing quality. When choosing a translation service, you should look for the following:
A Reputable Client List: This list should include known brands and clients relevant to your industry and needs.
Industry Knowledge: Translation services often have industry specialties. If you require legal, marketing, medical, or other specialized translations, the company should have proven itself in these subject areas.
Built on Human Translation: Humans ensure that translations feel natural to native speakers, and human-focused services offer the highest quality translations.

A final Thought

It is one of life’s immutable rules that you can get only two of these three things at once: fast, good, and cheap. You get what you pay for. Want to know the cost of a good translation? Click here.

Related Readings

What to Expect from a Translation Service Collaborative Translation

Watch this humorous take on translating lyrics

https://youtu.be/6M_yV57iFz4

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Published on Oct 15, 2019 by MARCOS DINNERSTEIN

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