Translation 101

My experience in translation has been limited mostly to correspondence and unofficial documents at work. I'm learning that it takes a lot more work than I expected to be a good translator. I'm currently enrolled in a translation class and here are some of the basics we've learned so far.

Translation consists of three basic steps:
  1. Analyze the source text - What are the main characteristics of this text? Who is the intended audience? What is the subject matter? What is the topic? What is the purpose of this text? What are my translation and research priorities? How is the source text audience different from the target text audience? etc.
  2. Translate the text - This part should be easier once you've answered the above questions. However, I'm finding that my first instinct about how to translate each sentence usually does not yield the best translation. This takes a lot of thought!
  3. Edit/proofread/review - It's important to review what you've done to make sure it makes sense. Of course, you also want to catch mistakes or typos you might have made. 
I found this interesting article today that discusses why translation might not go as quickly as clients want it to. Translation is exciting and fun, but extended periods of it can leave you feeling like this kid.


  1. Never thought about it that way. Sounds like it is way harder than it seems. I had to translate some stuff to Portuguese but it was a couple of sentences. Good luck!

  2. I've done a lot of interpreting into Russian, but almost no translating into Russian. That's awesome that you translated into your B language.

    Another thing I've learned (and it makes perfect sense) is that you are usually hired to translate or interpret into your A language. So all of those Russians I was interpreting for got the short end of the stick!


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