Lost in translation

It’s not rare to see translators that get lost in translating their texts – it all depends on the complexity and the experience of the translator. Depending on whether or not a translator is hired fulltime or freelancing, they sometimes don’t have a choice as to what tasks they tackle.

This leads to cases where translators break deadlines and deliver mediocre work due to the inability to effectively manage their time and resources. What are some of the ways in which you can organize your translation work better and deliver a high-quality product to your clients without getting lost in translation along the way?

Outlining your translation

Reading and outlining documents that are about to be translated is the same as reading anything else in your native language. The secret to outlining a foreign document is to identify the main points and paragraphs in the document before translating a single word.

Work your way through the document by jotting notes and annotations wherever you see an important term, heading or bolded letters. These terms, phrases and headlines will give you a much better understanding of what the document is actually about. Creating a three-point outline with an introduction, a body and a conclusion and filling in the blanks should be much easier afterwards.

Building a word repository

Key words and phrases repeat in every language out there, no matter what type of translation you are involved in currently. Building a base of words and terms that keep repeating through the document will make your translation work faster and easier to manage.

This will also give you a better understanding of the context in which the document was written and what the client actually wants to accomplish by ordering translation work. You can also hop over to Pick Writers - top translation agencies and find an editor that can help you put finishing touches on a document should you accidentally get lost during your final formatting stage.

The cultural context

Besides the obvious technical context in which a document was written, there is also the cultural context to consider. Translators often get lost while writing due to their inability to understand where the original writer is coming from. This often happens in fiction writing and article translation, less so in technical and medical translation.

Talk to the original writer or the client if you can’t understand the lingo or metaphors present in your document. Getting lost in translation is much easier if you are unaware of any complex terminology that you might face thanks to the cultural context in which the text was made in the first place.

Revising and editing

Revising your translation can often help you get back on track and notice any mistakes you might have made so far. Most writers leave the editing phase of writing for the very end, but getting lost along the way may help you change your mind.

Don’t be afraid of going back and simply reading through what you have done so far to see if it makes sense in the context of the original article. Do this as often as needed and especially before submitting your final draft to the client – it can often make a difference between rewrites and successfully finishing a project.

In conclusion

Every translator gets lost in their thoughts and sometimes neglects to pay attention to what they are doing – the trick is not to do it often. Find your perfect time of day and a spot that makes you feel as comfortable as possible. Boosting your attention with soothing music and putting your phone away can help alleviate much of the distraction you might face. This is the only way to get lost in translation as little as humanly possible.