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  • Hazim Ismail

Tips to Translators

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

1. Keep sentences brief

For increased comprehension and simpler translations, aim for about 20 words or less. And boost readability. I often ask myself, what's truly important? How can I simplify what I want to say? Reading sentences aloud helps to keep them short and sweet.

2. Use Standard Language word order whenever possible

This generally means a subject, verb, and object with associated modifiers. Ensure correct grammatical structure and proper punctuation.

3. Avoid long noun strings

When connecting elements are omitted from noun strings, readers must infer the relationship between the words. If you have to read a sentence several times to understand it, chances are that there will be further complications when it's translated into multiple languages. When this happens, we tend to see misinterpretations of the original meaning--or a translation that appears too literal.

4. Use just one term to identify a single concept

Synonyms get in the way of clarity. Write the same thing, the same way, every time you write it. Finding different ways to write a single concept will not only affect the overall consistency of translation, but it will also reduce the related translation memory leverage. This can lead to decreased quality, increased cost, and increased turnaround.

5. Assemble the printed and online references you need for the document in question

Always including a good monolingual dictionary and thesaurus in each language, a comprehensive bilingual dictionary, corpora in both languages, and usage guides in your target language – in addition to any specialized dictionaries or glossaries you own or have access to on the Internet. Begin a new glossary in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel so that you can enter new terms as you encounter them in the translation. Include the source where you found the translation of the term (dictionary, website, etc.) for future reference.

6. Begin your draft translation, without being too concerned about style at this point

Name the file according to the client’s instructions, if any, or give the file a distinct name so you can find it easily later on and won’t confuse the translation with the source text (“translation.docx” is not a good name to give a file!). Try to have large blocks of time available for translation so that you don’t lose continuity. It’s important to avoid distractions such as emails or phone calls while you’re working. If you have a long translation that you must work on for several days or even weeks, before you begin each day’s work, review what you’ve already translated so that you’ll get back into the flow.

7. Proofreading

Proofread the text one more time to make sure you haven’t omitted a word, misspelled something (your spell checker may not catch everything), or made some other mechanical error. Reading the text backwards is a good way to catch mechanical errors because your brain won’t fill in missing words or overlook repetitions of the same word (e.g. the at the end of a line, followed by another the at the beginning of the next line).

Also read, Essential Translation Skills to Become a Good Translator

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