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A Translator’s Guide For Better Quality And Accuracy


Translators often wonder about approach towards translation. This article discusses this and provides tips for better translation. Read it to improve translation and for better job satisfaction.


We all are pursuing a really interesting career in the business of writing and translation. The world, from the Stone Age to IT Age, has evolved only and only because of knowledge sharing and we are ambassadors of this immensely important service to the world.
Being a writer or translator, we have a great responsibility to discharge.
When writing, we have to make sure excellent flow, ease of reading and giving justice to the subject.
When translating, we have to make sure accuracy as well as quality that match the standard of the original writing.

We are sharing with you few valuable tips which may help you deliver better translation. For writing, we would be sharing another blog with you in coming days. So, let’s talk about translation.

1. Read before you go: It is always highly recommended that one carefully reads the entire text to be translated into another language. In case of a large file, like a book or an exhaustive report, one may do so in pieces. In any case, reading first and translating later should be our motto. It not only gives us better understanding of the matter but also improves pace of translation.
2. Mark all difficult words and phrases: While reading, we come across words, phrases and jargons which we may find difficult to understand or to write them properly in a new language. Also, many language-specific phrases and jargons may not have match in other languages. Spotting them in advance and marking (underlining or highlighting) them should prove a plus in the end. It helps our minds to think of proper substitutes to them.
3. Find meaning and substitutes in the beginning, not as you go: One may think, “I know what needs to be done and I will do that when I reach to a certain word or sentence.” No. That should not be your approach. Your approach should be, “Ok, I know the language in which this work needs to be translated, yet, I must explore its unexplored world and learn new words, and way of putting a line or two in the right way.” Any language is like an ocean. You may explore it whole your life and never manage to complete journey. Knowing this well, we should be ready to explore, learn and adapt new things. In my career as a journalist turned screenwriter turned playwright and then, an entrepreneur, I have always followed this path. Thankfully, my language, Gujarati, was really much better than most of the colleagues when I entered journalism. Yet, my grammar was below mark and all my reports and articles would pass through cruel grilling bya proofreader. That really hurt me. I resolved to learn Gujarati grammar. Today, I can safely say two things: I can write and translate in Gujarati on probably any subject under the Sun and two; my grammar is superlative and even after that, I never shy away from double-checking any single word in thesaurus when in doubt.
Coming back to the subject, my suggestion is: Find meanings of all words you may not find easy right in the beginning, check grammar and the right way of writing a word.
4. Original discrepancies, translated beauties: We often find errors in an original file. Of writing, or typo or fact and figures or something else. When noticed, such errors must be dealt with deftly by the translator. Never hesitate to communicate with your client or agency to share your queries on such things. When you do this, people have higher regards for you and you, as a professional, learn something new. Your pay for your writing or translation is one time thing, but your earning in the form of knowledge is invaluable and infinite asset for you.
5. Finishing touch with fine formatting: After translation is done, a careful reading and formatting is highly desirable. Maybe your client, an individual or an agency, is not going to pay you for that. So what? You can impress others with every delivery by giving a bit more than what expected from you. One approach is, “I do things for which I am paid,” and the other is, “I add value to my work to become invaluable.” Choice is yours.
6. Translation, an art, not a job: If one feels that translation is an art, the doer an artist and s/he just cannot afford going wrong, s/he is a winner. On the contrary, one who feels it’s a way to earn, and in many cases, to make both ends meet, it’s futile. Believe me; being a translator or a writer, you are already in an élite group of human beings as you won’t a writer or a translator here, there and everywhere. Valuing this, you must be many more times careful than thinking, “I must get rid of this file as quickly as possible.” Remember, one bad file and your client or an agency may severe ties with you for once and forever. You can afford being careful, but just can’t afford being a pacer, careless and lenient. Moreover, delivering bad jobs may ruin your reputation. And if you go on delivering quality work, your reputation would go up and up. It is said that no one is indispensable but we, writers and translators, can really become indispensable with our genuine quality.
I believe that these suggestions would help you work better, learn new things and also, feel really great for work you are doing.

The article is written by Sanjay V Shah, writer, journalist and entrepreneur. He is founder CEO of Mangrol Multimedia, a Mumbai, India based agency providing writing, translation, graphic designing, web designing, social media management, stage and audio visual production. Reach him: