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Inside the Mind of a Translator

Tutorials » Inside the Mind of a Translator

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the very mind

There’s a reason you hire a professional translator when you want your documents translated right. Professional translators provide you with accurate, localized versions of your documents in the language of your choice. While the process may seem simple enough: Simply write what it says in the other language. In fact, there is much more involved in creating a truly professional quality translation.

So let’s take a look at what exactly goes through the mind of a translator when he or she is translating a document.

The translator will complete the translation process through a filter of audience, author, culture, and style.

1. First they will read through the full source text to ensure they have a complete understanding of the document.

This will include the type of vocabulary used, the subtopics, and the general topic. For instance, if it’s a scientific document, they must be sure to understand the specific terminology being described. They will make note of any words or phrases that may pose translation problems, which items might be culturally specific, and any idiomatic phrases that may not translate exactly into the target language.

2. They will take note of which company or industry produced the source text, taking into consideration any specific terminology, target audience, and source materials that may influence the translation.

3. They will then consider the medium the translation will be used for. Is it a document, a website, an app, a brochure, etc. and adjust their writing style for that particular medium and audience.

4. Next, they will pay particular attention to the structure of the text. How is the text subdivided? How are the paragraphs, titles sentence structure used to convey the message, and will it work the same in the target language as well?

5. When they begin translating, they will make note of not only their writing style, but the register as well. Register indicates a form of language appropriate to different social situations, subjects, idioms, formal, legal, technical, academic, etc. Along with this, if they are translating for a particular geographic or cultural audience, they will consider which phrases and language style would most appropriately fit in with the register.

6. They will also choose an overall translation method, whether it’s a ‘faithful’ expression of the original material or a ‘natural’ expression, where the general meaning of the text is given more emphasis over each particular word or phrase.

7. Once they have finished an initial translation, they will then review their translation, comparing it against the original to ensure nothing was missed and that the document contains proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation in accordance with the target language.

While each translator is different when it comes to whichever methods work for them the best, and may even include more steps that they deem necessary to produce the best results possible. However, every translator will at least go through this process, whether outwardly or internally while translating.

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Tutorials » Inside the Mind of a Translator