Language translation is a fun and rewarding way to specialize as a professional writer. Whatever two languages you choose to tackle, you will not only enjoy the process of translating texts, but also learn a lot just by reading and changing words.
However, sometimes it can be a chore to translate certain words, slang, or sayings that just don’t make sense to you as a foreigner. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can alleviate your troubles with useful tools, tips and tricks to secure an accurate language translating process.
Use short sentences
Whether you're translating to or from English, French, German, or any other language, using short and clear sentences is essential to making a point. You might not even be aware of the mistake you're making by writing a long sentence with a lot of information.
When translating a text from one language to another, it’s always a good idea to keep your thought process short and on point. Using prolonged sentences might confuse your readers, making them point out the mistakes you made in the process. It’s good to get outside feedback and learn from your mistakes. But it's an even better idea to avoid them completely! Be as direct and simple as possible.
Use English terminology
Using English terminology is always a good idea if you're unsure of how to translate a certain word or sentence. Believe it or not, many more people are familiar with English terminology for certain occurrences, items and actions than any other language.
Before you translate a word using descriptive and unclear words that you're unsure of, consider using English terminology. Adapt it lightly to the target language you're translating to. You can do this with small additions to the word and putting it in brackets to make extra sure that your readers "get" what you are trying to do. Using a dictionary to help you with specialized terminology will only get you so far. This might be the only option you are left with from time to time, and it’s completely viable.
Adapt the language translation to your reader
Different texts have different target audiences and goals to accomplish. That’s why it’s up to you as a translator to adapt to your reader. Some books or texts are meant for younger audiences and you should use proper tone of voice and slang to accompany your language translation. Others might be specialized in certain branches or made for the elderly. This will also require the right degree of adaptation.
When translating any text to a different language, it’s important to remember that you are not translating the words – you are translating the meaning of those words. That’s why many translators fail to grasp the point of their text and mechanically translate whatever they see in the sentences. For example, you would be surprised by what the education statistics tell us about reading habits and foreign language knowledge in students. Try to understand what the original writer wanted to convey and work your way from there.
Use online tools
A smart and modern way of translating foreign language texts is by using online help. There are multiple platforms and dedicated services that can quickly and efficiently help you out. Any good translator knows that you have to use all the help you can get when working on a complex language translation project! Try checking out some of the below:
- Linguee: This tool is based on using a search engine to look up certain expressions, words and texts by combining the results with Google Image results. This means that the result is both visual and text-based, which can often help translators make ends meet and translate something properly.
- ProZ: Have you ever dreamed of an online forum where you can ask anything about translating foreign languages? ProZ is a place that lets you discuss translation topics, ask for help, help others in return and keep an active translating career through forum discussions.
- Zanata: A platform that brings content creators and translators together. Zanata is based around helping you manage your translation workflow better and solve problems you may come across while working on a text. The service is available for free to anyone who has basic browser access.
Consult an expert
Even though you might be a professional translator, it’s often a good idea to consult a linguistic expert if you are stuck. Translating texts is more difficult than it seems, and you shouldn’t let any words or slang slow you down in the process. Do whatever you can to speed the process up and help yourself by getting outside help from a language expert.
People who studied certain languages for years of their life may know more than you do as a translator. They will even be willing to help you out for free if you include a small thank you note in the text you're working on. Never be afraid of asking for help and consult an expert any chance you get.
A translation is nothing without proper formatting. You will often come across the problem of having too little or too much text once the translation is complete. That’s because many languages vary in word length and formatting often suffers for it.
You can alleviate this by using dedicated software to format the text properly. Formatting your text is all about making head and tail of what you just translated and making it flow naturally. It’s not as hard as it seems and it takes an hour or two to do properly before submitting the text to your editor or employer. Follow up on your quality work by making sure that your text looks the part as well.
Being a good translator is all about finding ways to bypass recurring problems conveying original meaning to a different language. The final product should always be targeted at the reader, and you should use any means necessary to deliver a quality product to them. With a plethora of tools, guides and help available at every step of the way, accurate foreign language translation is easier than ever before.
Kerry Creaswood is a freelance blogger, regular contributor for different educational and entertainment blogs. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks that everything we can imagine is real.