With the ever-increasing competition in the translation industry, translators are under constant pressure to grow professionally. One of the best ways to ensure a sustainable competitive edge for a professional translator is to become a better copywriter; that is, to work continually on improving his or her writing skills. Read this article to learn why a good copywriter plus an excellent translator makes a perfect mix.
Simple texts and machine translation
Copywriting is about great writing style. What kind of content calls for good writing? Marketing, legal, and general, just to name three. Literal translation is unacceptable for such texts, which are more difficult to translate than user manuals, for example, where literal translation is tolerable. It is simple texts where machine translation soars, whereas human translators have an upper hand in translating more difficult content. From this standpoint, developing the ability to translate more challenging texts that require excellent writing skills is key to continued success for human translators.
Simple texts and translation memory
By the same token, simple texts will be getting increasingly more matches with TMs by virtue of containing shorter phrases that repeat across subject areas and clients. Think “All rights reserved” or “Table of Contents.” It is impossible to predict accurately when translation memory technology and people operating it will get so good that a translation from 2013 for one client will be reused as a 100% match for another client in 2017, but it will happen invariably, because there is really no point in translating frequently repeating sentences again and again. To decrease the impact this has on your profits as a translator, you must focus on more difficult and unique texts, which requires developing your writing skills.
Simple texts and low-cost competitors
If translation rates continue to plummet, translation buyers will be compelled to distinguish between simple texts that they can assign to cheap and low-quality translators and difficult texts that only high-quality, more expensive translators can handle well. The latter must therefore move away the low-pay segment and focus on more difficult texts. What do translators need to be able to translate such texts? You already know.
Clients will expect better style.
The difficult translations I am talking about here are expected to have excellent style. They need to be appealing, because the goal of having such texts translated is often selling something to people who speak the target language. Today, clients may expect such style, but they often do not get it, since literal translations prevail in the market. But as the shift that I am describing continues, clients will become increasingly aware of machine translation and will no longer be willing to pay the same money they are paying today for literal translations. They will realize that buying literal translations does not make sense any more, because they can get those for much lower prices. As a result, for high and even average rates, they will want better translations. And translators will have to accommodate to this change by becoming better writers.
If you plan to be a professional translator for the long term, it is a good idea to start working on your writing skills today, because this is what will ensure your job security in the coming years. Read more about becoming a better translator.