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Written by Javier Arizpe

September 23, 2020

Qualities of a good translator


To successfully perform this profession it is not only necessary to master the language, but also to have knowledge of the task entrusted, that is, to be a pro-active professional willing to learn new things, research and engage intellectually and functionally in what they translate.


One of the most frequent questions of a bilingual or a polyglot is, what exactly are the qualities of a good translator that will make them stand out in the crowd? Below, we give you some of the features that seem to be previous requirements for being a high quality professional translator.


The best qualities of a good translator

# 1 Language skills

To begin with, to have a high level of language skills. The emphasis is not only on the competent use of a foreign language, but also the competence in the native language.
The ability to translate a text requires knowledge of the cultural context. A good translator should not only perfectly understand the language of origin, but also detect all the nuances, ambiguities, humor or irony and transfer them from one language to another.


# 2 Writing skills

Having excellent writing skills is important for formulating thoughts in words. It is very useful when translating literary and technical texts. The willingness to experiment with words and the ability to express ideas in a concise way (especially when dealing with word limitations).


# 3 Specialized knowledge

Specialized knowledge includes having experience in a particular area, but if you don’t have it, you can become a regular researcher of the subject. Some projects require detailed knowledge of a particular subject, which is something that not all translators can provide.

If you think that restricting your services to one or some areas of specialization can limit the number of potential customers, in the long term, this can be beneficial, since you will become an expert in your field, and you won’t have to compete with other non-specialized translators.


# 4 Computing knowledge

This implies having typing skills, a good domain of computer and CAT tools, especially if you plan to get involved in collaborative projects with other translators or work for a translation agency.


# 5 Self-discipline and management skills

Organizational skills and the ability to follow a routine are essential, since the delivery of translations often implies working in tight deadlines. Not knowing how to organize your own time is one of the most common mistakes among novice translators.

Finally, as I said at the beginning, a good translator, regardless of success, should be proactive. Keeping up to date with changes and innovations in your field of specialization. Being open to new things will make you more competitive and successful. Curiosity and eagerness to learn about new developments and innovations also show that you are serious in your career.

Would you add something to the list?


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