Do you want to charge higher rates and provide your clients with translations that will bring them the results they want? Then read this article, which lists five of the most important things you can do as a translator to make the shift from good to great.
Stop translating literally
This is a must unless you limit yourself to technical texts where literal translation is more or less okay. But if you aspire to go above this basic level, since you crave the higher rates paid for texts that call for a more creative approach, then you need to start thinking and writing differently. An important reason to do so is machine translation, which is getting better by the day. If you translate literally and so does the machine translator, not everyone will be happy to part with their money for your service.
You often come across something in the original that you do not understand. This is the moment of truth for you as a translator. If you try to guess the meaning, you might be right, even more often than not. But if you are wrong translation, you will make the worst possible error. Unwillingness to research phrases that are new to you is an obstacle to your growth as a translation professional. Not only do you miss the opportunities to develop your knowledge of the source language, but you also turn away clients, as no one wants to pay for work with critical errors. Further reading: “How to Increase Your Rates as a Freelance Translator.”
Perform QA on every project
Make it a habit to run automated quality assurance for common error types on every translation. It does not matter which tools you choose to do it with; it is the consistency in doing it that matters. Although QA may be tedious, your clients will appreciate it, because it makes a measurable difference. Your translations will look more professional, and you will be sending a clear message to your clients that you take translation seriously.
Maintain project-specific and general glossaries
Keeping glossaries has several advantages. It makes you more disciplined and organized. Glossaries increase the consistency of your translations and help reduce omissions, especially if you use a QA tool to check translations against glossaries. You can also reuse glossaries in other projects in the future, so that you do not have to research terms again.
Maintain a list of problem words. Check each project against it.
Make it a habit to keep a list of words associated with a higher risk of error, such as mistranslation or omission. For example, if you notice that you tend to translate “form” as “from,” add the former to this list. Whenever you make a mistranslation or omission, add the word or phrase to your list. Use your automated quality assurance tool to check against this list after each translation. By doing this consistently, you will significantly reduce the amount of errors that you make.
Since most of the recommendations in this article are difficult or downright boring, you will need perseverance to follow them at first. But as you keep on doing so with your teeth clenched, they will gradually become habits.
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