Characteristics of a professional translator

Today, there are a lot of offers on the translation market from private specialists and companies. The following are the characteristics that a professional translator must have. Look at the questionnaire of the specialist with whom you plan to work. For each answer «yes» mentally put one plus:

1. Profile education

To translate qualitatively, it is not enough to know the language. It is necessary to have a theory of translation — for example, to know the criteria for quality of translation. Therefore, education is very important.

2. Literacy

In most cases, translation is performed from native to foreign language or from foreign language to native language (for example, from English to Russian/Ukrainian and vice versa). Translations from foreign to foreign (for example, from German to Italian) are rare. Therefore, high-quality translation requires an ideal knowledge of the native language. Pay attention to how the translator/interpreter speaks. Specialist’s speech must be literate.

3. Adequate translation speed

A professional translator can qualitatively process a maximum of 10-15 pages. If the declared speed of a specialist is much greater — most likely, he seeks «at any cost» to take an order, agreeing to the conditions that can’t be met beforehand. This may indicate small experience of a specialist. The customer in this case risks receiving translation much later than the deadline. Quality can also suffer. Exception is an interpreter working in a team and giving part of the work to other specialists.

4. Market pricing

A very low price is a sure sign of a beginner translator. Experienced specialists don’t work at dumping prices. Exception is a translation agency that can afford to offer «tasty prices» within the framework of shares to attract new customers.

5. Specialization

To perform translation qualitatively, you need to understand its subject well. For example, to translate technical documentation to equipment, you need to know how this equipment works. To translate legal texts, a translator must perfectly master the terminology and wording. Therefore, almost all professional translators choose a certain specialization. There are exceptions — brilliant universal translators, but they are quite rare. Another exception — translators of rare languages (for example, Danish or Zulu) — because of the small number of orders, they are usually universal.

How many pluses are there? Their number — this is the assessment of professionalism of the translator on a five-point scale.

This test is a simplified assessment of the level of a specialist. However, for a number of problems it will be enough. For example, such an assessment will allow selecting an executor for an introductory translation of a non-specialized article or performing training translation. If you need to choose an interpreter for responsible negotiations, translation of technical documentation, personal documents or books, it is better to consult a specialist who can accurately assess his/her professionalism. Or contact a translation agency, where strict selection of specialists and quality control are carried out.

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