What Exactly Does a Translator do?
A translator deals with the written word, creating texts for print or online publication or for internal use at a company or institution or for private individuals.
Translation is not simply a matter of taking a string of words and sentences in one language and rewriting them in another language.
It involves taking concepts from one language and culture and tailoring them to reflect the same content in the language and culture into which they are being translated.
Each text to be translated is different, has different requirements, serves a specific purpose and is aimed at a specific audience.
Examples of documents that are translated are: an instruction manual, an annual report, a statement of defence and a novel.
The translation process, however, will generally be the same regardless of the type of text:
- The translator will read the text closely for understanding and to identify any ambiguities and may contact the client at this point for clarification on certain issues.
- The subject area and terminology are then researched.
- The translation is created.
- The final stage involves proof reading and editing the translated text to provide the final polished version.
How to Select a Translator?
Translators will generally specialise in a specific subject area, for example, medical, technical, legal or literary, will have a high level of knowledge and expertise and very often a higher level qualification in the area of specialisation.
The translator has an in-depth knowledge of the target market for the translation, its culture and language and this expertise will inform the translation of texts relating to your products or services for this market.
Professional translators are IT literate and work with many different software programs and file formats. They will generally use IT productivity tools (for example, computer-assisted translation tools) for their work in order to ensure consistency of terminology and style and to enhance quality control.
Translators are generally sole traders who are more than aware of the issues involved in running a business. They are therefore an important partner in opening up a foreign market, culture and language to a client’s products and services.
Important Considerations for Selecting a Translator
- Purpose and audience: What is the purpose of the translation and who will be reading it?
- Languages: What language is the document written in (source text) and what language do you want it translated into (target text)?
- Text format: What format or software is the text produced in?
- Subject area: What is the subject area of the text?
- Volume: How many words/lines/pages does the text have?
- Timeframe: What is the deadline for the work?
- Certification: Does the translation require certification and/or apostille?