5 ways to improve the quality of your translations

by OFER TIROSH 28/03/2018
5 ways to improve the quality of your translations

No matter how good you are at something, there’s always room for improvement. Whether you provide a professional translation service for a living or earn your keep by designing houses (or anything in between), the next job can always be better than the last. 

There are plenty of reasons to want to enhance the quality of your translation work. Professional pride demands it, for many individuals – the desire to be at the top of your game can be a powerful driver. Financial reward is another great motivator, with superior quality translation services well placed to command greater incomes. Whatever the force behind your desire to improve, here are five pointers to help you along the way. 

Localize as you translate

Converting copy from one language to another is excellent, but localizing it at the same time is even better. Put yourself in the mind-set of the target audience and approach your work accordingly. Keep cultural and religious considerations in mind and then let the language flow. 

Remember that this extends to images as well – if you provide a client with a beautiful translation, but neglect to warn him that one of the images on his website may be construed as offensive in the country he intends to target, the whole relationship could sour. However, be the hero who saves the client from an embarrassing mis-step and you may just have a loyal translation client for life! 

Localizing as you translate means offering clients a fuller service that you can take pride in – and that you may be able to charge more for too. 

Never stop learning

Languages change – fast! The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, undergoes quarterly updates. Each of these sees in excess of 1,000 new words, senses and subentries added. If you’re not keeping up, then your translation quality can suffer. While you may not approve of the latest additions (mansplaining, really?) it’s essential to keep up to date if you want your language skills – and therefore your translation quality – to stay ahead of the pack. 

Play with synonyms

Anyone who deals with language for a living, from translators to writers, can benefit from playing around with synonyms. Sometimes, the right synonym can allow you to stay true to the original text while still enhancing the quality and flow of the translation. You can test your knowledge during the working day by pausing to rattle through synonyms as and when you come across a particular word. There are also some great quick-fire synonym games online for those moments when you need a few minutes’ break from translating. 

Type faster

The pace at which you type can have a surprisingly big impact on your translation quality. The less time you have to spend typing, the more time you have to focus on the words in front of you. Touch typing is very much your friend here. Teach your fingers to find each letter on the keyboard automatically, and your brain is left free to focus more on finding the perfect wording as you translate. 

Proofread

It’s strange how many people neglect this essential step. Yes, proofreading your work adds to the time the job takes. Yes, it means you have to read the entire document again. But if that final read-through means you catch a few typos or suspect phrasings (after all, we all make the odd mistake), then you’ll have the chance to correct them and ensure that the final version is 100% accurate. 

Final thoughts

What other strategies have you used to improve your translation quality? And how did doing so impact on your work? Leave a comment to let us know. 

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