Translation is a confusing field. Not only is it necessary to master the languages you speak, but you’ll also have to be a proactive professional willing to learn new things, do extensive research, and engage intellectually with the work you’re translating.
One of the most frequent questions aspiring translators and businesses have is, “What are the qualities of a good translator? What makes them stand out among the competition?”
Generally speaking, a good translator has complete mastery over the languages they’re proficient in. However, it goes a little deeper than that. Here are some of the best qualities of a good translator:
1. Expert Language Skills
To begin with, translators need to have a high level of language skills, emphasizing not only mastery of the translator’s native tongue but also the mastery of a foreign language. In addition, the ability to translate a text requires cultural knowledge. A good translator should not only have complete mastery of a particular language but also expertise in the nuances, ambiguities, humor, culture, and memetics of cultures associated with a given language pair.
2. Proficiency in Writing
Strong writing skills are necessary for formulating thoughts into words. When translating literary and technical texts, a translator’s willingness to experiment with words and express ideas concisely is vital.
3. Specialized Knowledge
Specialized knowledge includes having experience in a particular area, but without it, a good translator should still be able to research an area they’re unfamiliar with. However, some translation projects require extensive knowledge of a specific field, like legal or medical translation. In these cases, clients need a translator who is an expert in these types of translation; they have to have extensive knowledge of the legal or medical fields.
Ultimately, restricting services to cover a single specialization may, at first, limit a translator’s access to potential clients. However, in the long-term, these restrictions allow the translator to become an expert in their preferred field and, thus, the more trustworthy option for clients looking into specialized translation services.
4. Computer Skills
In the digital age, a good translator should have a solid grasp of CAT tools, especially if they want to get involved with collaborative projects or work with a translation agency. In addition, a translator will need some degree of typing skill.
5. Strong Self-Discipline and Time-Management Skills
Organizational skills and the ability to follow a routine are essential since the translation process often involves working with tight deadlines. Not knowing how to organize your time is one of the most common mistakes among novice translators.
Regardless of their success, a good translator should always be proactive. Keeping up with the latest changes and innovations in a particular field and being open to new experiences will set good translators apart. In addition, going into projects with curiosity and eagerness to learn will show clients that, as a translator, you’re serious about your career and interested in their projects.