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.
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.
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.