So, You Wish To Be A Translator? There are 2 main things I wish to do on this pagefirst, I would like to say some things to people considering entering the language translation profession. Mostly I want to clear up some misconceptions, but there are also several things I just plain think everyone who’s contemplating or practicing translation has to hear. Second, for people thinking about what kind of background you require or steps you can take to become a translator, I would like to talk a little bit about the skills necessary and how to go about getting them. I write this article not with the assumption that I am the greatest Translator of All Time, but with the knowledge that I am still growing and that every single thing I say still applies to me and always will. In fact, I hope I’ll always be growing as a translator. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But in my career I’ve had the opportunity to be on both sides of the processon the one hand the translator being evaluated and working under supervision, and on the other side the person evaluating translators-both making recommendations on hires and quality checking other people’s work. It’s a rather unique set of experiences and it’s allowed me to see a lot of things about the translating processes of myself and others, and about new translators I see entering the area. On Translation Developing the Skills Part 1Opening Comments - On Translation Over the last decade I’ve been asked plenty of questions about translating and becoming a translator. Some came from aspiring translators, some from current translators, and some from people who were just interested. I’ve also corresponded with people seeking translation jobs. All these experiences have taught me about a number of the ideas people come into the translation field with-and a number of the ideas they don’t. And I’m seeing some gaps between the expectation as well as the reality of translation that I’d like to address. 1. Your Work Is Not Your Work. To translate means to deal with the borrowed or the stolen, never the owned. Everything that you are handling belongs to someone else. That shows you are translating, that novel you're translating, it’s someone else’s work. This may seem almost insultingly obvious. But there are many of implications you need to think about. The action of translation necessitates a considerable level of respect. Surrender any impulses of “he should have.” Fight off any thoughts of “making it better” than the original. The greatest artist is excellent because of what you see testified in his work, but the greatest translator is excellent because of his invisibility. You must not insert your own pride. You must not change lightly. You don’t have the right to. It’s the same principle as the man used on guard another man’s wifeyour job and your moral duty are to return her in the same condition you found her to the furthest extent possible. Because whether you love her, you hate her, or you find yourself indifferent to her-it’s your task, and she’s not your wife. Should you wish to dig up new resources about like, there are millions of databases people should consider investigating. You should be thinking that seriously. If you’re not willing to live with the ceaseless moral responsibility that translating entails, you shouldn’t be a translator. 2. Some Kinds Of People Make Good Translators, Some Don’t. Because translation carries such a high level of ethical responsibility and there are numerous cracks through which meaning can slip, a translator absolutely must be careful. The kind of person that makes an excellent translator is the same kind of person that makes a good librariansomeone who’s a little (or a lot) obsessive-compulsive. Now, of course you don’t require an OCD personality to be a translator. However, if it’s not your personality, it’s got to be your attitude. Translating requires intense concentration for long amounts of time and a focus to the very tiniest of details. Either you need to get through on sheer meticulousness, or you need an all-absorbing desire for the work. What you’re like in your own life, so what. However, if you’re a “don’t sweat the details” person regarding your work, if you skimp on research, if close is good enough for you, this isn't the right career selection for you. I don’t say this out of the desire to lecture and I’m not trying to scare you off; I’m merely trying to lay out the truth so you can make an educated decision. I don’t sit in front of my computer every single day shaking like a leaf under the burden of a soul-crushing responsibility and the effort of superhuman concentration, and you shouldn’t either. But people need to understand the gravity of what we’re doing and be serious about it and honest in our look at whether we can do it well. 3. Understanding Is Less Important Than You Would Imagine. Don’t think that just because you never remember what that one really common word you always forget means, you’re never going to be a good translator. In fact, don’t think that forgetting what those ten or twenty words mean will make you a poor translator. This interesting continue reading portfolio has a myriad of thrilling suggestions for how to see this view. Translation is you in a room together with your computer; you don’t have to talk to it immediately. Of course vocabulary is important. But what’s far more important is knowing what you know and what you don’t. In fact, that’s the most critical thing. Because if you don’t know and you recognize that, you can always find out. If you can research as appropriate and you can work out how to find out what you don’t know, remembering the phrase for “farming” isn’t important. You can always look it up. 4. Knowledge Is More Important Than You Think. Don’t think that you can translate Tv programs with an A in first-year Japanese class and a dictionary. It just doesn’t work like that, for Japanese or for any language. Yes, a dictionary can-usually-define a word for you, but language isn’t merely a lot of definitions strung together with elementary grammar. You must have both a good grounding in Japanese grammar and a good idea of how it’s actually spoken and written out there in the real world. There’s always going to be some weird sentence you need assistance figuring out no matter how good you get, but if you don’t have subtle and nuanced enough understanding of Japanese syntax to understand the grammar of most every sentence you encounter is doing (it’s okay if you have to sit and ponder it for a while first or remind yourself somehow), you’re going to misinterpret and your dictionary cannot save you. 5. You Require Good English. Whatever language you’re translating to, you need to be really damn good at that language. Say you’re translating from Japanese into English. Should your English skills aren’t good enough and you can’t make appropriate choices for how to express something in English, it doesn’t matter how masterful your Japanese is. 6. “I Speak Both Languages” vs. “I’m a Excellent Translator.” For some reason a lot of people seem to think that a native speaker of one language is going to be better at translating from that language (actually theorists agree that it’s best to be a native speaker of the language you’re translating into), or that somebody who’s bilingual is going to be good at translating from one of their languages to another. That’s not true. Translation is a skill and an art. Speaking numerous languages doesn’t make you a good translator any more than being able to see multiple colors makes you a good painter. Much like with any craft, becoming good at translation is part talent, part attitude, part education, and part practice. 7. The Native Speaker Isn't An Oracle. This is partly an extension of number 6; as we’ve said, speaking a language doesn’t make you a good translator. So it follows that speaking a language doesn’t necessarily equate with being able to answer questions about that language well. Some native speakers are good resources for word meanings and other linguistic issues; some native speakers are horrible resources for those things. And many are somewhere in betweenit depends on how good you are at asking the right questions. It’s crucial that you have native speakers as resources if you’re not native in the language you’re translating from, but it’s equally important to choose your advisors wisely-and then use them wisely, respectfully, and kindly. Finally, remember that no one is infallible. Most of us make mistakes, and all of us have things we’ve got the wrong impression about or just don’t know. Part 2What You Require - On Developing the Skills The Monterey Institute of International Studies features a ten-point list of methods to prepare for being one of their translation and interpretation students. This commanding english translators web site has some lovely warnings for how to see this belief. It basically says-Read extensively in your native language and in the language(s) you translate from. -Pay attention to the news in all your working languages. -Take steps to make yourself a more knowledgeable and well-rounded individual. -Spend time overseas. -Develop your writing, research, analysis, and (for interpreters) presentation skills. -Get computer experienced. -Don’t stay up for days at a time and live on unhealthy food. -Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. I think this is a great list that applies to any translator in any field. Becoming a translator at the top of the game takes hard work, dedication and commitment... But many people have proven its possible... Can you?. Dig up further about So you would like to be a translator? by going to our surprising essay.