While trying to finding someone qualified to translate your website, brochure or document can seem like daunting task, it really doesn’t need to be a difficult, confusing process. Even though there are many to choose from, the best translators have certain traits in common. Here are the most important characteristics to look for when choosing a quality translator.
A Master Linguist
Translators share a deep passion for languages. Without it, it would be hard to endure the many hours needed to create high quality translations. They also have extensive knowledge of both the source and target languages involved. Yet, just knowing languages fluently isn’t enough. A translator must also have a holistic approach to any and all projects. Top-quality translators not only translate words. They communicate concepts and ideas. Being attuned to the cultures involved as well as any regional expressions, nuances, and traditions is just as important. The most natural-sounding translations never sound as though they were translated. The best always sound like original documents.
This is why solely using machine translation is never a great idea if your goal is to have a first-rate final piece. Computers can translate word-for-word, but when it comes to figurative language, they fall remarkably short. It is still best to choose the human touch for a more personalized experience as well as a better quality output.
Likewise, someone who has spent time abroad and is fluent in another language doesn’t instantly qualify them to be a translator. Avoid anyone who proclaims to be able to express your ideas in another language without strong knowledge of all aspects of the cultures involved as well.
Great Writing Skills
Another necessity of great translators are outstanding writing and research skills. They should know how to present their words free of grammatical errors. Their words should be fluid, concise, and clear; their proofreading skills impressive. The original meaning of the source document must be preserved, even if a translator thinks they can improve upon the original. Solid research skills to find just the right way to portray the same meaning, feeling and context is key.
In searching for a qualified translator, be sure to review his or her experience and education. It takes years of translating to become a well versed expert. A translator with a well-rounded past may also have other linguistic-related experience such as teaching a language.
Most good translators also specialize in certain fields such as pharmaceutical or legal. If your project requires particular knowledge, specific industry jargon, or a more technical slant, be sure to pick someone with experience in these areas. This is often vital in the medical profession. While a translator doesn’t need a medical degree, they should know a bit about pharmaceuticals or certain diseases, for example.
At the very least, it is best if a translator has interest in the subject matter. It will make for an easier working relationship and less strenuous days.
Professional Project Manager
A translator with a high-degree of professionalism and dependability is important. A translator who can manage projects competently with a high-degree of self-discipline while effectively managing the workload, can mean the difference between meeting a deadline and missing it. Being flexible is also part of staying professional. An open-minded translator can adjust to various unique situations that may arise. Keeping calm is a fantastic trait as well.
Top Notch Responsive Communicator
Translators who are good communicators make the entire project go smoothly. They listen to your goals and desires. They understand the timeframe. If they have any questions, good translators are comfortable asking them.
A translator should also be available as much as possible. They should respond to questions in a timely manner. Unresponsive translators should be avoided. If you need to track down a translator, find someone else. This is especially important with projects that have tight deadlines. Challenges that often come up include last minute changes and additions. A quality translator should be able to adapt to your needs and address your concerns all while staying focused on the final goal – a high-quality translation.
A translator who is both meticulous and fast and punctual is a wonder to behold. The best don’t create excuses. They always respect and meet all reasonable deadlines.
Ethical and Personable
Be wary of translators that promise you they are immune to mistakes. There will always be hard days, typos and grammatical errors. Humble translators will deal with them all and always do their best to mitigate any mistakes before handing over the finished product to you.
If a translator seems unpleasant, difficult or impolite to work with, move on. It is a hard enough process to undertake with quality translators.
Lastly, choose an honest translator, one who accepts assignments that know they can complete to the best of their ability in the given amount of time.
Keeping all those points in mind should help you on the road to picking the best quality translator for all your translating needs!
Ilona K is a 5-star writer at WriterAccess. Her latest creations include website user guides for the Federal Aviation Administration and blog articles for a language service provider.
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