Top 5 Qualities of a Good Translator

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Qualities of a Good Translator

Being a translator isn’t as easy as many assume. Unbeknownst to some, having knowledge of one or more languages doesn’t exactly qualify you to be a linguist. There are actually a variety of skills, characteristics and qualities needed to truly classify as a translator. From obtaining a qualification in linguistics to maintaining self-discipline, we explore the different characteristics required to certify as a good translator…

Skill #1: Language

Every translator should have extensive skills in both the source and target language. Being native is not always a requirement but having proficient experience in either language is an absolute necessity. Beware of the spelling and grammar police – you don’t want your client to catch any horrific mistakes in your work – it goes without saying then, that linguists should be fluent in both languages. While language skills are extremely important, another crucial skill that comes to good use is knowledge of cultural norms and values. The ability to not only translate but localise a piece of content is what makes you an exceptional translator. Whether it’s a degree in the said language or a certificate from the American Translators Association, it’s also essential that a translator has some kind of language qualification.

Skill #2 – Writing

As mentioned earlier, the spelling and grammar police can be strict in the world of translation – people pay a lot for it, so they want to make sure that their content is up to scratch. It’s therefore essential that linguists are good writers. A skilled translator won’t just translate word for word – they will read and understand the entire context of a written piece and translate it so that it flows and reads as though it was originally written in that language. Writing skills are therefore a prerequisite for translators.

Skill #3 – Expertise

As a translator, it’s important to have familiarity with the content’s subject matter. Whether it’s a medical or financial document, its very important that the linguist has experience and knowledge in the field. This will ensure that the quality of the translation is of high standards and there are no contextual mistakes. The linguist should have a full understanding of the industry they’re translating for as well as an awareness of the right terminology associated with this field. Translating for Forex or iGaming isn’t as easy as ABC. These niche industries have references, phrases and vocabulary that are specific to their field only. It takes a linguist who is experienced in this area to truly grasp what the source text says and be able to transform it into another language. On the plus side, specialising in one or more specific areas can help you stand out among a sea of other non-specialised translators.

Skill #4 – Knowledge

Part of being a translator involves having knowledge and staying up to date with the industry trends. Stay ahead of the game by keeping informed about the latest translation technology and any advancements in the linguistic sphere. Translators who have a good command of CAT tools and translation management systems are more likely to succeed and stand out in the crowd. The same goes for other translation trends that evolve overtime such as video or SEO translation.

Skill #5 – Characteristics

Other than professional and practical qualities, there are also a few personal characteristics that will help a translator succeed. Firstly, translation requires discipline. This job is fast-paced and there is certainly a lot pressure when it comes to deadlines. As a linguist, you must maintain organisational skills, patience and the ability to handle stress. Demands from clients can be tense and the workload can get hectic – it’s therefore important that you have good management skills and are able to control stress levels.

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