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An Old-School Translator

Things are changing so rapidly in our industry that I already consider myself an old-school translator even though I started off less than 10 years ago. Perhaps, this is just a funny way of looking at things, but I do believe there’s some truth to this perspective—new-age translators (NATs) are a different breed. This post outlines some of the traits of an average NAT.

New-Age Translators Do Things Differently

  1. NATs are much more self-confident when it comes to assessing their translation skills. I wasn’t comfortable accepting paid translation work until I graduated from the university with a degree in languages. Even at that point, I knew my skills weren’t good enough yet and was prepared to translate without any pay just to get experience. Nowadays, it seems that the only thing an individual needs to market him/herself as a translator is a PC. Some NATs don’t know even the most basic stuff.
  2. When I first started, the tone of most Russian translations was much more formal than today. Back in those days, Microsoft insisted on using formal terms like “веб-узел” and “загрузить” even though everyone else used their colloquial counterparts. Now, with the social media bridging the gap between the corporate world and consumers, the tone is getting less formal by the hour. Microsoft uses “сайт” and “скачать” all the time now.
  3. I like to follow the rules of the Russian language even in minor aspects such as quotation marks, em dash, spaces before the measurement units, etc. A NAT doesn’t pay attention to such little things because he/she isn’t aware of them or doesn’t have the time to get them right. He/she simply keeps whatever is in the original text.
  4. I love building a project glossary as I translate a project. A glossary helps me translate repeat terms easier, faster, and more consistently. I also use it to check my translation with QA Distiller when I’m finished. I’m not sure whether NATs use a glossary at all. Instead of translating terms consistently, they like to be “creative” and translate terms differently each time. Am I’m missing all the fun? Should probably try this approach, too.
  5. NATs aren’t too crazy about using the reference materials. And it does make sense financially if you think about it. When you’re getting paid for the words you translate, looking into some additional materials outside of your CAT tool is a pure waste of time, right?
  6. NATs tend to believe they can translate into a language other than their native just as well as they translate into their native tongue. Even though they keep the original word order and translate literally by simply using the first dictionary meaning, they think they’re doing great and this is how things should be done. Not until they get feedback.

Best Translation Rate is More Important Than Quality

That is not to say something is wrong with NATs. They’re a function of the market demand. The market wants more translators and lower prices. A NAT is a perfect response to that demand. Being flexible about quality and rules helps them translate faster and cheaper. As long as their clients are happy, this is fine. But me, I’m going to stick to my guns since old-school folks like me still love clients for whom quality matters.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like to read about the common explanations translators use to justify blunders.

How about yourself? Are you an old-school or new-age translator?


  • Natalia A. Ishevskaya says:

    Thank you for this comment, let’s by all means stick to our old-school guns. After all there ARE clients who appreciate quality. Perhaps, if we do, we might be joined by some, what you call, NATs who don’t want to turn into NUTs (no use translators).

  • Hi Natalia. Thank you so much for your comment! I like how you turned a NAT into a NUT :). I’m also glad you’re on my side. It’s true that many translation clients do care about translation quality and customer service. In fact, most of our clients are buying at our highest, premium rates.
    Best wishes,

  • Hi Roman! Great post! I have noticed the same process and it really grieves me at times, especially when I have to edit the creations of NUT translators. I can say I am becoming a more and more old-school translator with each year and I definitely love it!

    • Hello Olga. Thank you so much for your support! I totally agree with you about editing poor translations. This is especially true with challenging translations. Editing them takes basically the same amount of time as translating from scratch would.
      Best regards,

  • Shkoda says:

    Такое впечатление, будто мы с вами в разных мирах находимся. По опыту я новичок, хоть и не совсем зеленый, но таких огрех в текстах не допускаю ни в своих, ни в тех, которые читаю. Все-таки до сих пор еще живы неразрывные пробелы и приведение к единой терминологии… Может, мы с разными людьми сталкиваемся?

    • Ну что тут сказать, тогда я хочу в ваш мир 🙂 В моем мире люди не стесняются выкладывать в профили примеры переводов по сложным тематикам, в которых они ничего не понимают, навроде финансовых рынков. С соответствующими результатами. Буду рад, если вы пришлете примеры своих переводов; если подтвердится, что вы действительно в другом мире, буду к вам «переселяться» 🙂

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.