You can do much towards delivering a quality product if you follow some clear-cut ground rules. Below are some which have proved of great help to me, and I trust they will also do the same for you.
- Be knowledgeable about your subject matter If you are not at least familiar with your subject, chances are that you will make mistakes. You need to either be knowledgeable about your topic, or take the time to read up on it. If your deadline does not allow you the extra time, then do not accept the job in the first place. A poor translation will damage your reputation every time.
- Be aware of some significant linguistic differences Paragraphs formed by short, separate staccato sentences are quite usual in English, whereas Spanish favorites long linked sentences. An English text with long, convoluted and linked sentences, or a Spanish text with short clipped separate sentences will come through as stilted and unnatural.
- Avoid over- and undertranslating Do not try to improve on the source text by adding ideas into your translation that were not in the original – they are your ideas, not the source author's. Either should you do the opposite, leaving things out that should somehow be included. The author or copy-writer certainly had a reason to write them in.
- Steer clear of false friends When your target word is suspiciously similar to your source, check and double-check to see whether the meaning remains unchanged. If that's not the case, you are facing a false friend and should search for another term.
- When trying to find an equivalent is not such a good idea A frequent error in judgment occurs when translators assiduously seek equivalents where none are applicable. This usually happens where the cultures are entirely divergent – different legal and judicial systems, or disparity in the social or religious customs. In these cases you should refrain from trying to find an equivalent; rather, you should try to translate your term to the best of your ability, so that the end or target user understands what you are talking about.
- Do not give in to the paraphrasing urge Also frequent is the tendency to explain a term rather than translate it, in cases where the equivalent term seems especially hard to pin down. Sometimes there is no other way out, when you encounter what Eugenio Coseriu termed "the rational limit of translation" (mainly due to cultural rather than linguistic differences), but generally you should strive to translate, not to explain.
- Do not rely on your spell checker Do not get me wrong. You should use your spell checker to correct any spelling mistakes or typos, but do not assume that it can replace the human brain processes. A word may be correctly spelled, but completely wrong in context – and your spell checker will never detect it. So, after spell-checking your document, it's you who must go in and check for consistency and coherence.
- Check, double check, triple check Regardless of how familiar you may be with geographical names or names of international organizations, you should always check to find out whether there is an official name in your target language for that country or organization – do not rely on what you see in the press. Newspaper reporters are not linguists – you are.
- Leave your source document after After completing your translation, you should review it as a stand-alone text, without reference to the original, in order to assess its readability from a target audience standpoint. Does it look as written by a native speaker of the target language? Is it easily understood? Are there any obscure passes?
- Take a break before your final review Once you are done, put some distance between your translation and yourself. If your deadline allows it, sleep on it. If you are racing against time, then a nice cup of tea or a coffee break might do the trick. The thing is to clear your mind, very much like turning off or restarting your computer. You'll find that after this pause, you are able to view your work with a heightened perception and detect glitches that had previously slipped by unperceived.
Good luck with your translation efforts, and remember: you can not be too careful when it comes to delivering a product of quality.
Source by Nelida Kreer