I‘ll just give it to my neighbor’s son to translate. He sits at the computer all the time and he knows French. What can go wrong? And I’ll pay much less compared to a professional translator. Let’s suppose this would also be the way to deal with   a toothache? Why go to the dentist’s when my neighbor who studies dentistry can take a look? It will certainly cost less. Or maybe in this case you would decide to go to an educated professional?

The fact that someone knows how to read and write does not mean he is a writer. Having said that, knowing your mother tongue and another language (even if you have advanced level of knowledge), it doesn’t mean you are a translator.

In theory, all you must do is send the source text to a translator with all the reference files and he or she will provide a perfect translation quality within the very short period of time. In reality, however, some other aspects are also important.

Do you know what skills are needed to be a professional translator? People often think that a degree in foreign languages is enough be a professional translator. However, same as for any other job, it demands education, knowledge, and a strong desire for improvement. But which particular skills and expertise are necessary for one to be a good translator? Here are 5 skills we consider to be of utmost importance:

Advanced knowledge of the language

An absolute necessity, with no exception, is that the translator is proficient in more than one language. However, a good translator needs to be almost bilingual, he or she has to have knowledge of grammar and syntax and has to be able to recognize and translate the tone and register of the source text.

For people who work in transcreation, tone and register are very important if you want to ensure that a message is properly transferred from source to target language. To gain this level of expertise, translators constantly upgrade their knowledge during their career.

Using CAT tools

Another skill that needs to be acquired is knowing to work with contemporary technologies, computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools in the first place. These tools play an important role in translation process as they facilitate the process and ensure better quality using the features such as text segmentation, terminology management, QA, etc. All of them use translation memories, which help translators to reuse fragments of previously translated text, helping them speed up the process and maintain consistency throughout the translations. This leads to high and unified translation quality.

As a result of these features, CAT tools reduce time spent on translation, they minimize the need to use dictionaries and, in general, help translators to increase their daily output and improve consistency and quality.

CAT tools, however, are not the same thing as Machine Translation. While Machine Translation uses artificial intelligence for translation and does not require human input, translating with CAT tools implies that human translators perform translation with a help of software.

Having an area of expertise

Having an area of expertise means that the quality of service provided will be better. Translating some areas of expertise, such as science, medicine, pharmacy, or engineering demands certain level of subject matter knowledge which exceeds language skills. In these cases, translators need to have more than a basic knowledge about the subject matter or the product in order to provide a readable and understandable translation and avoid unpleasant misunderstandings. For example, think about IFUs for medical devices, or forms for patients and doctors during clinical research studies.

Perfect understanding of cultural context within source and target language

The language is said to reflect country’s culture. Beside a simple understanding of the text, a translator needs to be aware of cultural aspects of the source and the target language.

He or she must be a mediator which can filter the cultural differences and adapt them to target language. This is the only way for translation to reflect all those fine layers of source text document.

Developed soft skills

In the end, human skills make all the difference. Abilities to strengthen the relationship with clients, to work as a part of the team and to communicate efficiently are vital for a translator if he or she wants to stand out, regardless of the area of expertise.

Other soft skills which Project Managers and end clients highly esteem are flexibility, responsiveness, and timely feedback.

Having all this in mind, if you still decide to hire your neighbor’s son, we do wish you a lot of luck. If, however, you want your project to be handled by a team of experienced professionals which offer a guarantee for their work, we can certainly help. Contact Us and let us show you how we make a difference.

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