What actions should you take to make a good translation ?
“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases”. Bad news for translators: there is no ready-made recipe for a perfect translation either.
Negative feedback can shatter beginner’s dreams of a career developing at a breakneck pace; it is worth to remember, however, that at a certain point constructive criticism helps us grow, develop skills necessary for boosting our careers and discover our true talents. While there is no simple list that a translator could just go through and check everything they have done in order to deliver a high-quality translation, there are a few general points that apply to virtually any order that a professional decides to take. In fact, the whole translation execution process consists of various decisions made at certain stages of task completion, with the most important dilemma being solved even before we even get down to work. Do we want to take this order… or not really?
Finding the perfect balance between constantly doubting your abilities and biting off more than you can chew
There are challenging orders and there are orders that are simply beyond the scope of your theoretical knowledge and practical expertise. Just because you had a course on medical translation during your university years does not mean you are ready to translate a clinical study protocol or someone’s medical history. Browse the text, try to extract a few sentences and phrases that you have no idea about. Research your resources, go through dictionaries and websites; if every single term requires extensive search, consider whether you really are ready to deliver a perfect translation – as medicine requires perfect knowledge and no second thoughts. Admitting that you would rather like someone more experienced to prepare this translation is not a sign of weakness; more a proof of one’s maturity and deep understanding of developed skills. Believe in lifelong learning, never stop developing your skills and investing in your knowledge; these are the resources that cannot be taken away from you. Time management is key, so spend as much time as you wish on preparing a timeline of order completion; while taking on yet another order decide whether you are physically able to pull an all-nighter and still excel at whatever you are doing. In majority of cases the answer is no, proving that focusing on one project is more effective than juggling multiple diversified jobs at the same time.
Learn how to efficiently use available resources and unleash your potential
Dictionaries, term bases, translation memories and scientific databases are completely useless until you learn how to use them quickly and effectively. Carving a niche for yourself helps to establish a general direction of your development and channeling your efforts. Explore the opportunities created by the industry and invest in the development within the fields that bring you most joy and satisfaction from work. Attending conferences might help you improve skills within both native and foreign language, as well as learn more about the stages of translation process. Investigate closer your work methods, identify problematic areas, consult someone else with more experience and successes to find solutions. Do not be afraid to ask for advice those people whose work you value the most – the worst that could possibly happen is that you will be ignored. Learning how to properly use the resources and plan your work actually makes up about a half of the general success; do not be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. You are always one step closer to developing your own recipe for success in translation.
Whether you work freelance or as an in-house translator in an agency has little to do with possibilities of incorporating CAT tools into your regimen. Improve the quality of your translations and offer your clients consistent use of preferred terms – and all of that coming in a relatively effortless way. Sounds so good that it can’t be true, right? The truth is, CAT tools can live up to their reputation and when used in a correct way, they can tremendously increase translation throughput and bring incredible financial benefit. If you need more help with the software, invest in a training or join a webinar. It is one of these investments that will pay off tremendously in the future, allowing you to leap forward ahead of the competition.
Always aim for the stars and never settle for less
Basically, in this field clients’ demands could be reduced to one thing: timely delivery of a high-quality translation. The truth is much more complex and reaching the last stage of order completion, that is finally sending back the prepared text, is usually preceded by multiple quality assurance stages, thorough research and countless hours of diligent work. There is one universal thing that applies to anything a professional translator should do: push your limits, always try to excel and go far beyond the limits set beforehand.