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How to become a successful translator

Becoming a successful translator requires a lot of patience, skill and practice. It is a field on the rise, providing many opportunities to work with different types of people and to learn new things. It is an essential service that you will be providing; you will be helping people communicate better with each other. Below are some steps you can follow to become a successful translator.

  • Learn another language and become fluent in it. Learn how to have a conversation and learn the meanings of several words in the language. In addition, brush up on your own language to understand it more and know how foreigners view it.
  • It is one thing to learn a language and it is another thing to know how to write it. To be a successful translator it is beneficial to learn how to write the language into which you are translating.
  • Apart from learning a new language, it will also be a good idea for you to enroll for translation and interpreting classes as this will go a long way to help you understand factors such as culture, context and audience when translating.
  • This may be a bit difficult, especially as it may require some measure of finance and time, but to get a proper grasp of the language you are learning you may want to travel to a country where it is an official language. Ensure you spend time with the locals and not visitors or foreigners like yourself.
  • While not mandatory, it will still be advantageous for you to become certified, as this will make it much easier for you to find employment. Most employers believe people who are certified have the required expertise and skills to move their organization forward.
  • To further boost your profile you can take language proficiency tests to show potential employers and clients that you are truly proficient in your chosen language. This also gives them the opportunity to rate your skills and see for themselves that you are right for the job.
  • When it comes time to job hunt, you can do this by registering on various websites and getting freelance jobs, which could be what you need to kickstart your career. Some of these sites may require a registration fee while others may not.
  • You can also find a paid or unpaid internship, which will provide you with another opportunity to build up the required experience you need to forge ahead in your career. At the end of the program if you prove yourself you may find yourself with a full time position.
  • Considering that most translators are freelancers, you will have to market yourself well by choosing a subject-matter niche that you know very well, as this will make it easier for you to get jobs.
  • Do some research and acquire for yourself a copy of the right software to benefit your specific workflow. Also, ensure you are translating from your target language into your native language and not the other way around; not only will this be easier, but it also happens to be the standard industry-wide procedure. This way, should you come across an unfamiliar word when working on a job, it will be easier to research it in your native language to be sure you’ve chosen the right term.

How to spot Google Translate

WHAT IS GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Google translate can be described as a free, multilingual, statistics-based translation service offered by Google to help people translate speech, text, real time videos or images from one language into another language. Google translate provides a web interface as well as mobile interfaces for Android and iOS along with an API that can be used by developers to build applications, browser extensions and different software. Currently Google translate is used a lot; it serves about 200 million people every day and supports about 103 languages at different degrees of sophistication.

HOW GOOGLE TRANSLATE WORKS

If you ever need to translate words or phrases from one language into another language, then Google translate can be a very helpful tool. However, it is worth pointing out that Google translate cannot be compared to a true bilingual dictionary such as those used by professional translators. Google translate works differently; it takes the words, phrases or sentences that you type into the input field and compares it with the combined results of all previous translation requests in the chosen language using Google’s proprietary machine translation engine. Almost immediately, Google translate provides you with the search result in the box to the right of the input field.

Despite its incredible convenience, Google Translate is not without its share of problems. Like other online translation tools, it works using a machine translation engine. This means that when an exact match cannot be found in its database of previous translations, it uses probability to choose an answer, which inevitably leads to imperfect results. No matter how large a translation database may be, it is likely to be incorrect at least some of the time unless the results are reviewed by a human linguist at the final stage.

EASILY SPOTTING A GOOGLE TRANSLATION

Though Google translate is commonly considered a miracle solution among nonprofessionals and high school students with sporadic translation needs, closer inspection will prove otherwise. For quickly determining the gist of a foreign piece of text, Google Translate is indeed an amazing resource, but its infallibility ends there. Any native speaker of the target language (and even a fair share of amateurs) will immediately recognize its imperfections. Problems often fall under one of the following categories.

Perhaps the most salient of Google’s mistakes is one of word order. Google translations rarely preserve the natural syntax of the target language; instead, they often emulate that of the source text’s language, scrambling the text’s meaning along with it.

Another common complaint has to do with tone. In deciding how to translate a given word, Google Translate will often err on the side of excessive formality, giving the text a stilted feel, or will choose an overly technical term belonging to the wrong semantic field, causing an abruptness in sentence flow for the reader.

Other problems are length-related; Google will only translate a limited number of paragraphs, and will generally work best the shorter the sentences happen to be. To add to this unevenness in quality, certain language specifications simply work better than others do; European languages and translations into English will yeild more accurate results across the board. Even in the European languages it supposedly does best however, Google Translate will often confuse tenses, most notably switching the perfect and the imperfect.

What is the difference between Localization, Globalization and Internationalization?

LOCALIZATION

Localization is the modification of a product or content to the language or other specification of a particular locale. The process of localization involves changing content to align to what obtains in the region of the target audience. This can include converting currencies and units of measurement and changing the presentation of dates, phone numbers and addresses. This could also mean changing the designation of a cultural group or country for political reasons; for instance, many residents of Taiwan will resent being referred to as “Chinese,” preferring instead the appelation “Taiwanese.”

Localization can also involve alterations to graphical content; most images are of a culture-specific nature, and therefore need to be slightly altered (or completely replaced) in order to seem natural to the intended viewer. The kind of clothing being worn by people in a stock photo, for instance, can immediately tie the content to a specific region of the world. Likewise, a color with positive connotations in one culture may carry negative connotations in a different one. Symbols and icons are another graphical element that are far from universal and may therefore require replacement.

Localization also involves certain aspects of language that are not strictly covered by translation. For instance, idiomatic expressions and proverbs—if not omitted from the source material from the start—will require replacement by a comparable one from the target destination, assuming a suitable correlative actually exists.

In summary, Localization therefore aims to give a product the feeling that it was produced solely for the target audience, irrespective of culture and language.

GLOBALIZATION

Competition—both domestic and international—has motivated many companies to begin targeting global audiences; for these companies then it is imperative that their products (especially in the case of interactive software and applications) are compatible with their global consumers’ operating systems, web browsers or other local specifications.

For the most part this process revolves around the translation into the local language of any textual components that the user is likely to interact with, including menus, toolbars and dialogue boxes. Globalization also involves the various ways in which onscreen text is to be sorted or displayed.

Because this process is mostly linguistic, it makes little sense to recreate applications from scratch every time they need to be prepared for a specific market. Instead, the application to be globalized should initially be coded in such a way that text can easily be replaced without affecting its underlying (non-textual) components.

Globalization is therefore a process that is used to address the challenges of logistics that an organization faces when it expands its content and assets into new markets with different perspectives and cultural beliefs.

The processes involved in globalization include carrying out research and identifying global markets, validating and selecting these markets, formalizing global business requirements, translating into the target audience language and putting their culture into consideration while aligning it and getting support for internalization.

INTERNATIONALIZATION

Internationalization involves planning for and implementing products and services such that their localization for the target audience and culture will be easy. A blend of international expertise and technicality is needed to pull this off. New systems are deployed in the process while the ones in use are reengineered. Internationalization helps to ensure that when you roll out your services in the selected target countries, there is cost efficiency in the way you do business.

Internalization processes include making illustrations for documents whereby text is easy to change to another language, creating space in user interfaces in case there is a need for more space during translation into another language, making web site graphics and print such that their translation is not expensive, using examples with global meaning, using tools that are able to give support to international character sets and making sure that there is data space in software so that messages can be translated from a source language with single-byte character codes to the language of the target audience language that has to make use of multiple-byte character codes.

Translation & Localization – How can you tell if your content needs localization? When is ONLY translation needed?

The time will come when you have content that needs localizing. You may have this realization because your company has an international presence, or because you want to expand your services into new markets. At this point, it will be clear that in order for your content to travel easily and connect with your target audience, it will have to be localized. In order to accomplish this, a number of steps will be necessary.

Localization involves adapting the content in question so that it provides an equal amount of value to end-users in a new locale. This may include altering the names of currencies or other region-specific attributes such as employing a different color palette. It may also require the text to be translated from its original language into that of the target destination.

HOW TO LOCALIZE YOUR CONTENT

There are several ways to guarantee the usefulness of your content across cultural and linguistic barriers. These include the following.

Ensure that the language of your content is tailored to your audience. Modifying the language to suit that of your target audience does not necessarily require a complete conversion into a foreign language like French or Mandarin; sometimes this may be as simple as modifying the spelling of certain words only (as when differentiating UK and US spelling). Other times it may require changing the phrasing of sentences that are idiomatic.

Formatting & Design

When localizing your website, brochure or other content, formatting and design alone can tip-off your audience that you are involved in international business. For this reason, when making formatting and design choices you must be mindful of the sometimes-significant differences in cultural attitudes that can positively or negatively bias the reactions of your intended audience with regard to your content.

A successful localization should conform to the local audience’s social conventions in a way that seems as natural as possible. Ensure that your design is done appropriately such that it will align with the people you are intending to reach. Create graphics and work with icons that are understood by your target audience.

Take the culture of your target audience into consideration. The visual content and the colors of the people you are trying to get across to should be put into consideration. In different cultures, visual metaphors and colors have different meanings; therefore, carry out some research before you decide on the ones to use. You need to do this so that you do not offend the sensitivities of the people with which you are trying to communicate.

WHEN ONLY TRANSLATION IS NEEDED

Oftentimes only translation is needed when you just need to substitute words from one language to the other. Therefore, one has to be careful in differentiating between localization and translation. Localization has to do with translating and modifying a product or service offering from the source language to the language of the target audience, with the modification being the key aspect of it. Translation simply involves converting the source language to the target language such that it can be understood in the proper context.

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