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HOW TO BECOME AN EXPERT IN TRANSLATION

Updated on April 14, 2016

Translation- An Art in Itself

Translation is a field which requires a thorough investment of knowledge, language skills, time, and dedication. These days, it is a skill that is finding many takers and people are recognizing this upcoming field as a potential career option, based on their own background knowledge and linguistic prowess.

These are Tacit Rules...

Merely being a subject matter expert does not suffice. It is in best interests to do the needful AND go that extra mile to be an expert at translation.

Though subtle, career wise there is a significant difference between just positioning oneself as an expert, and really gaining expertise to be one. An expert doesn’t just position oneself, but has background & results that prove the worth of his/ her work. Experts could either be truly knowledgeable industry - professionals turned freelancers or linguists turned subject-matter experts, or both. Showing involvement is a must for expert translators. It is a must to become personally and intellectually involved with the translation profession and show interest in successes, trends and failures. An expert in translation can’t be detached from learning about translation theory and history. Without it, there is talent, but no expertise. A certain level of theoretical knowledge arising out of the awareness/ study of the history of the profession is mandatory to endorse expertise. An enthusiasm/ passion for translation is essential. It is professionally as well as personally harmful to consider oneself a know it all. True experts strive for a continuous professional development and they never stop learning. Translation necessitates an extreme degree of respect for person, whose work is being translated. Any impulses of bettering the original text should be got rid of. An expert translator should never be critical to new perspectives, trends, or even new ways of translation, even if those are way different from how they like to approach translation. All experts have specific skills/ knowledge gained through years of practice. However, it is rewarding to re-examine their techniques, embrace & adopt the useful in the new trends, and perform even better. Last but not the least, a real expert never refuses to share his/ her knowledge, valuable insights & experience to help/ benefit others.

Nuances of Specialization

The necessity for a translator to be specialized in a language set depends on the type of translation work done. In case of a particular language hardly spoken outside of its native territory, specializing is not needed, as the language skills are very specific. But in case of common languages like French, an extra degree/ Diploma is needed to add more value to the translator’s resume.

Certain steps could be taken to select a field to specialize in. One should consider a field of interest, it could be one worked in before. For example, people in the legal profession could possibly work as a legal/ paralegal translator. The subject mentioned in the degree could be the field related to which, texts could be taken up for translation. One could consider hobbies like gardening, sports, cooking, etc., as a choice to translate texts about. Being an exponent in a field requires knowledge that can be acquired by various ways. One could sign up for courses in the field. Lectures, presentations, or courses in both the source as well as target languages could really help in being much better versed with the vocabulary in both languages. Also, promotional and theoretical discourses on translator-training growingly draw their authority from specialized professionals.

In the given set of languages, important knowledge needs to be acquired abreast with new developments in a given discipline.

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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I find this hub very interesting because I worked as a Chinese and Thai translator with the federal government for almost 30 years. Translation is really an art which takes a long time to acquire. In addition to being subject matter experts, it is necessary to be well versed in your native language as well as the target language/s.

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