Best Way To Improve Your Language Skills As A Translator

Excellence cannot be attained without constant effort. People who are good at something do not achieve a position of merit within a day or two, rather their success is buttressed upon an arduous journey of constant repetition, critical and capacity-building approach. 


Similarly, if you want to ameliorate your language skills as a translator, you need to adopt a path of constant work embedded with a critical approach where you work upon your weak points, meanwhile, strengthening your merits. Moreover, you need to have a passion for learning. Because, as far as the job itself is concerned, languages are in a constantly evolving process with the addition of new words and dialects. 


In this article, we will discuss some of the ways that you can adopt to improve your language skills as a translator;


Diversify Your Reading Resources


Like mentioned earlier, one cannot grow as a professional if he is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results every time. You have to try something different. In order to improve your skills, you have to diversify your reading resources.


The reason why there is a prevalent difference between a good translator and a poor one is that the good translator thinks outside the box. He is constantly trying to get an edge over his or her competitor. And in this endeavor, he diversifies his resources to come up with a different approach that enables an effective translation output. 


Moreover, consulting various resources also ameliorates your creativity. You get in a mindset where you understand how people think differently. And what logic and information go behind that opinion. This also helps you as a translator and makes your job easier because you understand the perception, values, and ideologies of people. Hence, your translated work keeps all these cultural factors intact.  


Understanding the Culture of Target Audience


The purpose of translation is to communicate with an audience that speaks a different language. Though it may seem like an easy task, it is one of the most daunting tasks that translators can face during the process of localization. 


On the contrary, one might argue that Translations are just simple word-to-word replacements, so why is it deemed a difficult task? 

Well, the fact of the matter over here is that you can replace words with machine translators. But there is no guarantee that it will convey the same meaning that was initially intended. There is a whole cultural background that comes along with a language. You cannot convey a message without having to understand the cultural intricacies, nuances, and preferences of the target audience. 


Thereby, a translator needs to enhance his skills by conducting deeper research of the text and its meaning. He cannot deliver a text until and unless he inculcates every subtle reference and nuance that was implied in the original text. Because if you don’t, you would probably make the mistake of misinterpreting the text, which can eventually lead to adverse repercussions on organizations. Hence, you have to ensure accurate translations are done. And for this particular purpose, it is advisable to take assistance from professional translation agencies. 


Writing Skills


You can research all you want, read all the articles or books for your understanding of the target audience’s culture. But until and unless you acquire mastery in the art of writing, you will never be able to become a good translator. 


In the field of translations and localization, mediocre or below-standard writing cannot survive for a long period of time. Your competition is with some of the best writers in the world, who also happen to be multilingual experts. And in order to compete with them, you have to raise your standards. 


First, it’s imperative to understand that there are different styles of writing. And your writing has to be molded as per the characteristics or demands of the target audience. For instance, you are not supposed to write in a difficult language. If your target audience consists of middle-class and lower-middle-class people. Similarly, you have to carry a professional writing style if you are targeting businesses.


 Moreover, you also have to take into consideration the nature of your writing. In this case, ensure if you’re writing for marketing, advertising purposes or promotional purposes, or simply writing in a technical or legal capacity. 


Practice, Practice, and Practice


Once you realize what steps you need to take in order to improve your skills as a translator. The next and the most important aspect is to make sure that you practice translating. The one thing that can ensure successful results is your work ethic. You need to put in the work to improve your skills in translating.  


Furthermore, you can also sharpen your skills by working with those texts and passages that have been translated before. So that you can compare your results with them. And see where you lack and which areas you can count on as your strengths. Some translators have a habit of translating texts in the literal sense, hence losing the cultural connotations and idiomatic phrases that come along with the language. However, if you practice and see such mistakes, you can learn and work to prevent them from ever happening again. 


It might be quite sobering for young translators to see that whenever they translate a text there is always some room for error. But that is when you need to pluck up your courage and see that these errors are an opportunity for you to make progress and improve. 


Accepting Feedback


Valuable feedback is extremely essential to enhance your translation skills. It will help you identify what mistakes you are making vis-a-vis the style of writing, grammatical errors, tone of the text, plus whether your translation kept the cultural connotation intact while perfectly conveying the intended message. 


However, you have to be careful in terms of who is giving you the feedback. Because if you ask 50 people for feedback, you’ll probably get 50 narratives and suggestions. And there is a high chance that every suggestion is different from the other one. Hence, making it difficult for you to differentiate. Thereby, you have to narrow down the options and refrain from confusing yourself.


In this context, you have to realize which feedback adds more value to your work. Moreover, the person who you are consulting should be well-credentialed as well. You cannot go ask anyone to give you feedback. Hence, look out for translators with sound experience and expertise. Moreover, take their feedback for the general improvement of your translation process and language sense, rather than getting one or two documents approved. 




Conclusively, we can proclaim that there is no standard methodology to improve your translation skills. You first need to conduct a complete SWOT analysis. In which you critically analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a translator. And then work to strengthen and improve them respectively. 


Becoming a good translator is a journey and not a one-day process. You have to think logically and cover every aspect that will enable you to improve your translation skills. As mentioned in this article, you have to think outside the box by diversifying your resources. This will enable you to understand the cultural intricacies of the target audience and then embed them within your documents. Having said all that, you have to improve your writing skills. And that can only be done by practicing, and then getting it checked by some translation expert who will give you the feedback that you need to ameliorate your skills as a translator. 

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Eric Batley September 9, 2021 0 Comments

All You Need to Know about Chinese Sign Language

The languages of the world are vast and are of a wide variety. Not surprisingly, those who want to travel the world and are keen to know about the different cultures opt for learning the languages spoken in these regions as a language itself is the compass by which one can gain knowledge of the place.

But one language that is of somewhat universal nature is sign language.

Sign language has been around for centuries, probably even before verbal language was being used to communicate. Certain cues and gestures established understanding between individuals, resulting in two-way communication. 

The Chinese Sign Language (CSL) had also been established to act as a means of communication between people, but mostly it was made to facilitate the deaf community. Here is a look at the evolution of Chinese Sign Language and its significance in the Chinese region as well as its role in the world of social media. 

CSL and the Deaf Community

The Chinese Sign Language has been around for a long time since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-959), but it developed mostly in the late 1950s, with signs that resemble Chinese characters. It has various dialects with Shanghai being the most common. Although the first deaf school was founded by an American missionary, C.R. Mills, American Sign Language is very different from CSL.

The Schools and workshops in China for the deaf community contribute to spreading CSL. In other countries as well, CSL is learned in order to help the Chinese deaf people. For instance, in America, the Chinese National Association of the Deaf was founded by deaf people in the US to help improve the quality of living for Chinese deaf people. This organization still works to improve the welfare of the deaf community by encouraging the education and job prospects of the latter using sign language. 

A Look at the Evolution of CSL

The Spoken Chinese language is considered one of the hardest languages to master. This is why learners are confronted with four subtly different tones that are almost indistinguishable from the foreign ear. Not surprisingly, it is quite rare to find discussions on how it feels like to master Chinese without hearing the sounds and tones of Chinese, but for the Chinese Deaf community, this is the primary means of communication. 

Sign language is a popular method of communication amongst deaf people throughout the world. Take for example the British Sign Language, which, although is not so widespread, is still on display when a BSL narrator is commonly seen next to a television. Similar to BSL, Chinese Sign Language is a combination of hand and finger signals with emotional expressions that convey individual letters, words, and meaning.

CSL has been used by deaf people in China throughout the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In fact, there are historical accounts of how deaf individuals communicate with hearing relatives through a system of home-signs that expressed the concepts of daily-used words such as “bread”, “meat” and “fish”. 

These early developments marked the beginning of the spread of sign language throughout China till it was standardized. During the mid-20th century’s political revolution, the People’s Republic of China took steps to both standardize CSL and the curriculum of Deaf School. In 1958, a Sign Language Reform Committee was established to standardize and represent this language. As these signs were based on spoken language, many two-syllable words were represented by two signs instead of one to express a “question” or “interrogation”. 

Sign Language in the online world

The Chinese sign language has come a long way since its evolution and in the early years of the 20th century. Even though the development of the language has been slow, numerous organizations, schools, and institutions now exist in metropolitan areas and cities which follow the standardized rules for CSL.

In the vast world of the internet and social media, CSL is also slowly gaining momentum and social networking sites, as well as blogging platforms, are being used to spread awareness of sign language. Consequently, the online media platform is acting as a space for deaf people to interact with each other through online videos.

One huge challenge for Chinese sign language is the wide number of regional variations existing in cities and areas—even in neighboring regions, sign language is different. Recently, Weibo users have opted to use CSL to communicate if they find it hard to communicate in Shanghainese sign language, and there have emerged some examples of Weibo users who have used sign language in place of the Shanghainese sign language since they had less knowledge of the latter. Not only that, the CSL is now being used by the netizen community to interact with the deaf people across China and in other countries as well. Naturally, the Chinese online space is providing a ground for interaction and interest in CSL. 

Weibo is being used as a platform to reach out to deaf people. For example, a user “Pure White Meets Heaven Blue” advertises a CSL corner in order to help hearing people practice CSL with deaf teachers and for the deaf to interact with hearing people. Moreover, the deaf community is also active on WeChat, with accounts specifically made to share the latest news about CSL and education about sign language. The current patterns of social media indicate that there is a growing interest in CSL and deaf culture, with Chinese internet users expressing positivity and pride in the usage of sign language. However, it still remains to be seen how this ‘online positivity’ will help in the recognition of CSL in the real world.

The Last Word

The Chinese Sign Language is a unique language that is being used by the deaf and the hearing people in China to increase awareness. By looking at the current social media trends and the rise of online spaces, it can be predicted that the future of the CSL is bright and promising. However, it still requires constant support from the Chinese government and authorities in order to ensure that CSL continues to flourish and facilitate the deaf community as well as the hearing one in China.

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Antonia January 1, 2021 0 Comments