Translation management

Features of a good translator

Mobile Regs
cze 3 2015

good translator

Anyone who loves to learn foreign languages, must have thought about becoming a translator. Today's text is prepared for everyone who dream of working in that profession. I also invite to the text those who chose a completely different way, but would like to know, what involves the translator's work and what skills are required.
And to the point: what makes a good translator?

1.The relevant personal traits

What can I say – perfectionists are the best in written translations. Patience, curiosity, conscientiousness, accuracy, ability to maintain concentration for a long time – those are desirable character traits in this profession. You cannot exaggerate and spend long hours polishing each sentence, in this way we will not earn enough. But if you are too lazy to look something in a dictionary, if the word really means what you think, if you translate a sentence word by word because you do not understand some fragment and you do not want to educate yourself in a given field, if you do not take care to keep terminological consistency throughout the text and you forgive yourself tedious reading of the text before handing it over to the client- your translations will be of poor quality.

 2.The knowledge of a foreign language (and its culture)

Many people think that a good knowledge of a foreign language is sufficient to do good translations. I cannot agree with that- in my opinion it is a necessary condition but not sufficient condition (see the other five points of list). Translators do not need to be eminent orators and speak with a beautiful accent. Primarily the most important is erudition with  different types of texts, which allow us to "feel" the language with its different nuances of meaning. Well mastered grammar and a wide vocabulary is essential (though we do not need to know all the words in the language - firstly it is impossible, and secondly, the frequent use of dictionaries is no reason to be ashamed of, but a sign of professionalism). If you want to translate not only from a foreign language into Polish, but in the other direction (it is a norm on Polish market) you must also be able to use the written language freely – to write idiomatically, while maintaining the style and register  adapted to the situation.
The knowledge of the language cannot be separated from the knowledge of the associated culture. It is worth to know a country's literary canon, popular songs, poems for children, a bit of politics, current events, television programs ... Of course, not in every kind of translation, such knowledge would be required if you specialize in medical or financial texts, you will manage without the above. But when translating all kinds of literary texts, films, newspaper articles, this knowledge is often essential.


3. The knowledge of mother tongue (and its culture)
 It would seem that knowledge of Polish is something that is bred in the bone. Yet the ability of an elegant and correct expression in Polish does not come from nowhere, but it requires conscious work. Each of us commits a lot of mistakes every day, and many of us are not even aware of. "Hard nut to crack", "regarding the above", "management and maintenance of real estate"- here are just a few examples that at first glance look OK, but they are not correct. Not to mention the rules of punctuation (these unfortunate commas!), the use of uppercase and lowercase letters, variety of names, language calques (loan translation- that are intense in translations) etc. Apart from avoiding mistakes we should also work on the style and vocabulary development.