We all know what makes a good translator: attention to detail, excellent command of languages, extensive experience. But even all that isn’t enough to be great, right? Some things might look like magic to the untrained eye, but that keep great translators on their payrolls know how to recruit and employ the very best thanks to the following qualities.
Superior Mastery of Languages
Great translators know how to convey the meaning and finer nuances of text without resorting to “word for word” translations. It’s not always necessary to go all literal and translate every word as it is; usually, it’s better to use a different structure, one better suited to the target language. Great translators understand this, and that’s why their translations are often better than the original. Experience is always a big plus, but that doesn’t automatically imply that someone will be a great translator; sometimes, things like small ambiguities, metaphors, or humor are lost in translation despite the experience. Great translators should understand this and strive to retain the original text’s spirit, not the letter.
A Talent for Writing
Make no mistake – great translators have the passion and zeal of a seasoned writer! It’s no wonder, considering that they’re men and women of letters and often deal with pages upon pages of text daily. Still, truly excellent translators have that spark, a penchant for writing, and innately know how to give you the best translation. Command of both target and source languages is one thing, but it will only get you so far. It goes without like grammar and punctuation should be impeccable even with good translators, let alone great ones. Of course, mistakes can (and will) be made, and that’s why a good proofreader is lurking behind every great translator.
Knowing Your Limits
There are some things that every translator learns early in his career: how to say “no,” what’s area is best suited for you, and dealing with feedback. Passionate and experienced translators will always refuse the job when they realize it’s out of their league or simply not their area of expertise. Likewise, everyone is good at something; some translators prefer economics, others medical texts and some can’t get enough technical reports, while others prefer to translate official documents. is what makes you a great translator. Feedback is another area where those top ten percents know how to deal with a range of clients, from ignorant to desperately needful to toxic.
Sitting on your laurels can be nice and fulfilling, but it’s not the way of great translators. If you want to be on top of your game – improve yourself! Constantly improving your knowledge, doing research, and following industry trends are significant in the translation business. There is no substitute for heavy lifting, and no one is going to do it for you – great translators strive to become better every day, bit by bit. Learning something new is always beneficial, and there’s no harm in trying to be the best, right?