What makes a good translator?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a professional as someone who is engaged in an activity as one’s main paid occupation. Considering this, it is fair to assume that a professional translator is an individual who has been paid, and continues to be paid for his or her work. But what warrants repeat business? Indeed, bilingualism is not the only requirement for a successful career in translation.
The most important aspect to consider is that good translators must first be good writers. This point is especially crucial among the multilingual population, where foreign language acquisition is sometimes accompanied by first language neglect. In other words, in-depth knowledge of more than one language is an admirable skill, but it takes a special mind to maintain parallel mental language spheres without confusing them. While there are translation theorists who maintain that target texts that read as translations provide readers with a sense of foreignness that is culturally enriching, the general consensus remains that a translator’s ultimate goal should be to produce a text that reads seamlessly in the target language. To accomplish this, polished drafting skills and a love of writing is just as important as source language knowledge.
In addition to writing talent, it is imperative that a professional translator be familiar with the topic he or she is translating. While additional degrees in either related or unrelated subjects are a wonderful testament to field expertise, a good researcher can easily acquire enough terminology to do justice to an unfamiliar topic. In a sense, translation methodology courses prepare the translator for this task, as the novice translator learns how to become an expert in virtually everything. In other words, the best language translators are incredibly meticulous, insatiably curious, and know where to go to find out everything about anything. In addition to this thirst for knowledge, the best translators possess a capacity for empathy. Perhaps this is why machine translations will never entirely replace the work of the human mind. The professional translator’s job thus becomes not only one of producing good writing, but also of conveying a message with the author’s original intent. Indeed, the professional translator’s ability to imagine him or herself in another person’s shoes is the first step towards recreating the author’s voice in another language.
Truthfully, there are all types of translators in the world, and establishing a blanket rule for what makes a good translator is not necessarily constructive. Ideally, translation proficiency should occur on a case-by-case basis: give the potential translator a translation test – it will inevitably speak for itself.
© Francisco Fernández Campo. LinguaVox CEO. English to Spanish translator.
Professional competences of our in-house and freelance translators
LinguaVox, S.L. is a technical translation company with an ISO 9001 certified quality management system and an EN-15038 certified translation service , and offices in Europe (Spain) and the United States of America (Michigan).
According to the European quality standard for translation service providers, EN-15038:2006, a translator must show proof of translationary, linguistic, and textual capabilities in the source and target languages through, at least, one of the following:
- 1. a university degree in translation (official studies);
- 2. an equivalent degree in another field, plus at least 2 years of documented experience in the translation field;
- 3. at least 5 years of professional documented experience in the translation field.
Our professional translators translate into more than 150 languages, including English (British, Australian, and American English), Spanish (European -Spain-, Mexican, Latin American and US Spanish), French (European and Canadian French), German , Italian , Portuguese (European -Portugal- and Brazilian Portuguese), Arabic , Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Flemish, Galician, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese , Korean, Norwegian (Nynorsk, Bokmål, Riksmål), Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish, Urdu, Valencian, Afrikaans, Albanian, Bengali, Byelorussian, Bosnian, Burmese, Croatian, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Gaelic, Hindi, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Latvian, Macedonian, Maltese, Persian, Punjabi, Scots, Serbian, Thai, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, Amharic, Armenian, Breton, Chechen, Dari, Esperanto, Farsi, Filipino, Georgian, Greenlandic, Kazak, Kurdish, Latin, Lingala, Luxembourgish, Moldovan, Mongolian, Nepali, Occitan, Quechua, Rwandan, Sinhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tartar, Tibetan, Turkmen, Uzbek, Zulu, etc.
You can get further information about the triple quality guarantee scheme applied to our translation services in the appropriate section of our website.
If you are a translator and want to be included in our database, you can fill in our online form for professional translators.