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To Be a Good Translator, You Need to Be a Good Writer

Tutorials » To Be a Good Translator, You Need to Be a Good Writer

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writers working as translators

Translators have the important task of translating not only text from one language to another, but also a sense of the language’s culture. Language has always been the gateway to the beliefs, ideologies, and anything else that makes up a certain culture. Word choice is inextricably linked to culture, and it’s a translator’s duty to be able to take those words and convey them in the target language that gives the audience the same window into that culture, as if it was written in their native language from the start.

As the world continues to become smaller and smaller, there is a growing need for the translation of all kinds of materials from practically every language to every language. Especially due in large part to the internet, it has never been easier to connect with people and business from all over the globe.

In order for translators to do this properly, they must of course be experts at writing. They must be able to convey the same “artistry” that the original writing possesses, so their adeptness at writing should be on par with the original author. Being a good writer isn’t necessarily a skill that people are born with, however. Get Quote

So how does a translator go about learning how to be a great writer?

Training translators is an important task which should be given a high priority. The service that translators render to enhance cultures and nurture languages has been significant throughout history. Translators are the agents for transferring messages from one language to another, while preserving the underlying cultural and discoursal ideas and values (Azabdaftary, 1996).

The translator's task is to create conditions under which the source language author and the target language reader can interact with one another (Lotfipour, 1997). So what skills should a translator possess in order to accomplish this task?

Like all great writers, the first step is reading others’ works. Translators should read various kinds of texts, since translating requires active knowledge, while analyzing and evaluating requires passive knowledge. So it’s important to start with developing receptive skills first. By doing this, translators will improve their intuition and be more prepared when faced with actual translation activities.

Translators should also develop a familiarity with different sources from both the source language and the target language cultures. Literature, contemporary prose, newspapers, advertisements, brochures, etc. all contain culture-specific aspects of language. By reading a variety of sources, translators will be able to improve their reading comprehension across a variety of mediums and learn very important insights into modern culture.

When it comes to writing, translators should practice in a variety of sources as well. Differentiating writing styles and techniques will help improve understanding of each languages’ particularities and idioms as well as improve the overall writing skills and vocabularies of the translator.

After developing a solid competence in both source and target languages, a translator can then begin to translate on a professional level. However, the learning is never over. Translators should always keep various informational sources on hand, like dictionaries, encyclopedias and different online resources. Many times, translators can get “pigeonholed” into translating only limited kinds of documents. When that happens, they don’t get to practice translating various subject matters or formats. So translators should keep with practicing different sources so as to keep up their comprehension of modern nomenclatures.

Azabdaftari, B. 1997. Psychological Analysis of Translation Process. Motarjem Journal, Mashhad, Iran. 21 & 22: 7-12 (Translation).
Lotfipour, S.K. 1985. Lexical Cohesion and Translation Equivalence. Meta, XLII, 1, 185-92.

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Tutorials » To Be a Good Translator, You Need to Be a Good Writer

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