The translation process is somehow more complicated than most people think! It is not just a mere replacement of words in a different language and a vague knowledge of the grammar of the target language or a copy-paste-copy action in Google Translate. Translation has been characterized as an art, as a science and to my humble opinion, translation is a combination of both. To produce a fine translation, a translator needs to possess several tools and sometimes extensive research skills. There is a list of tools a respectable translator needs.
A degree in translation is a must. Some translators have a combination of degrees, some hold a BA or a Bsc in a different field than translation and an MA in translation, or the opposite. These translators have a more in-depth knowledge in a field and they have actually been trained to apply their knowledge of the translation theories on their field of expertise.
A critical mind
When something seems not make sense in the target language, it probably does not! A translator needs to be a judge of essence and needs to make sure that what is written actually has a meaning in the target language and is not just a bunch of waffle. What I have come across during my proofreading adventures is the fact that translators seem not to respect the rules of their mother tongue (for instance, in respect to punctuation).
A pc or a laptop is an essential part of the translating process. The days of hand-written translations have long past! A top notch computer system is a helping hand to a translator. Of course, computers crash and had a limited life time. And so, a back-up system is also important. Some translators both, a pc and a laptop. This does not only serve the solution to a crash, but also helps the translator while travelling. An external hard drive is also vital not only to back-up work at the end of a working day (for a good night’s sleep!) but also to move files to both systems.
Apart from a Microsoft Office package, this includes popular software and CAT tools. Some translators are having second thoughts on CAT tools, however, to be honest, this technology makes the life of a translator much easier. When, for instance, repetitions exist in a text, a CAT tool quickens their translating process. Another great benefit a CAT tool offers is the consistency of the terminology. Checking individual terms in a TM (translation memory) keeps texts consistent and clients happy!
A wide range of dictionaries
Any type of dictionaries is included in this section: traditional printed dictionaries and online language portals, glossaries and dictionaries. The list of the above is non-exhaustible. A lot of institutions and companies have created language portals or offer users terminology lists and all these are an important tool to a translator. This point leads us to the next vital tool.
The world wide web is a information lake of no bottom for a translator. Everything can be found online, a translator only needs to know where to find it. It is an essential tool for terms’ research. Not having an internet access makes the translation process twice longer and sometimes a translator can be stuck on a term and unable to go any further in the text. When I do not have access to the Internet, I feel as if my hands are tied!
The luck of any of the above would make me feel uncomfortable while working, especially when it comes down to equipment, software and the Internet. Sometimes, I think about the way translators of past centuries used to work and it seems to me like it was a rather demanding task not only in a matter of familiarizing with unknown terminology but also in a matter of time management. A translation must have been taking them ages!