As with any field, newbies at freelance translation will make mistakes. But being aware of possible mistakes and correcting those errors is a part of any freelance translator’s journey from novice to expert. This list of tips will focus on errors of content and the nuts and bolts of translation work, not on the freelance business side of the equation.
- Know your audience. Or in translator lingo, don’t forget about localization. If you translate from English to Spanish, is your audience Spanish? Mexican? South American? While you may be Argentine, if your main audience is from Central America, the translated message may be misconstrued or garbled because of differences in word usage. If you work from Spanish to English, will the translated document be used in Australia or the U.S.?
- Translate content, not each word. Truthfully, if you translate each word without regard for the grammatical and syntactical conventions of the target language, you should not be translating. Spanish to English and English translations require a sophisticated knowledge of both languages. Leave word-for-word translations to those beginning the study of a language or online machine translators, not a paid freelance translator.
- Be consistent throughout your translated document. While both English and Spanish are rich with different vocabulary words that mean similar things, don’t forgo consistency of terminology throughout a document. This is especially true in technical translations, as the language is very specific. If you translate documents with high word counts or different documents with similar content, consider using translation memory software. This will save you time over the course of the project as well as lend consistency throughout.
- Only translate into your native language. If your native language is Spanish and your second language English, only translate into Spanish. While your English may be impeccable, there is no substitute for a native English speaker’s translation and vice versa.
- Invite constructive criticism and feedback from your translation mentor. Your mentor can offer you invaluable insight that will allow you to grow as a Spanish to English or English to Spanish translator. Being open to their perspective and advice will enrich your translation work and facilitate your journey from novice to seasoned translator.