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Steps to Organize Your Translation Process (Part II)

If you are reading this article and you have not read the first part, I suggest you read it here. If you have already read it, here is the second part of the list of tips to help you organize your translation process.

  1. Unless you are sure that the author’s intention was to write part of the text in an ironic or “weird” way, you should not translate in autopilot mode. By that I mean that you should not use the first translation you find in a bilingual dictionary when you see that it really does not fit within the given context.
  2. Do not forget that your translation must be coherent from beginning to end; thus, you should use cohesive elements so that your sentences, paragraphs and the whole text make sense.
  3. Playing with structures. From the lexical point of view, you know that there isn’t much room to work with, but there is a room in the structural and syntax level. It is a good idea to look for fluidity by changing word categories (for instance changing adjectives to nouns or verbs to nouns), unifying similar concepts that may be separated, or switching around the sentence order…
  4. Reviewing time: do not spend 100% of the time you have translating. If you don’t spend enough time reviewing, even if you are a great translator, it is impossible to obtain a quality translation.
  5. Do not replace a term for an explanation. If you are dealing with a translation that belongs to a technical or scientific field that requires the usage of technical terms, that is exactly what you should use, not an explanation of the meaning of the term. If you are dealing with a technical text, that’s the way the text should sound. Similarly, if you are translating a general subject text you should not use technical terms (even if you are an expert on the subject) when it is obvious that your target audience is not made up of experts, but rather has an intermediate to basic level of knowledge in the given field.
  6. Relying on the context. There may be some “lost” concepts within a text, due to the way the source document is written. Remember that you may be able to understand what the paragraph in question is talking about given the context. Your job is to act as a link to facilitate the communication between two cultures, companies, people, etc.
  7. You should correct the factual mistakes you find: it is very common to come across inconsistencies in names, years, etc. Keep in mind that the person who wrote the text is a human being and has the right to make mistakes, but you should not replicate that same mistake in your translation.
  8. Leave a little extra time to review the text after having finished translating. You should take a break and look at the text with a new perspective, which will allow you to improve your work.

Lastly, although the concept of a “perfect translation” does not exist, it is important that the terminology, the syntax and the flow of the text is such that it sounds as if it had originally been written in the target language.

(Versión en español: