As a freelance translator, when it comes to improving your translation skills, you will typically turn to devote hours to the source language. While this is certainly a critically skill set, there is another area that deserves just as much devotion: the ability to write well in the target language.
Here are some tips for translators for improving your writing skills.
1. Keep a blog
Give yourself space to hone your writing skills and the ability to share information with a target audience. It’s also a fantastic way to gauge your process.
2. Read about writing
No matter how skilled a freelance translator you may be, we all need a few tips and reminders on spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Check out style guides, infographics, blogs, and news articles for a quick boost.
3. Read work out loud
Obviously, feedback from a professional editor is the ideal scenario, but being able to critically assess your own work is still a vital skill. Self-proofing your translations can be a little tricky, and it’s too easy to become immune to the idiosyncrasies in your own style. But, try reading your work out loud. If you find that you are tripping over certain phrases when reading your work aloud, it’s probably something in the text that is restricting its flow as opposed to a slip of the tongue.
Another point to look out for is long sentences. Sometimes, reading the work silently means we gloss over them, but reading aloud will help you spot them as you gasp for breath racing to the next full stop.
4. Read actual translations
This is an important tip for translators. Besides writing, read texts in the target language by other professionals in your specialist area. Examine how they use language, and try to figure out what makes some texts more engaging than others.
Developing your translation skills, and your writing skills is an ongoing process that is never going to meet a final destination. There is always going to be room for improvement.
A final point
It is important that you bear these four tips in mind with the practical application of translation. Translation writing is very different from the art of producing original texts. You don’t have an infinite selection of phrases and words at your disposal when translating a document, rather, you are tied to the message that is in front of you.
A particularly great way to hone your writing skills as a freelance translator is to carefully analyze existing translations along with the source text. Points to consider include:
- What is it you like or dislike about the translation style and why?
- Where is the line between the reliability of the source text and the importance of getting across the main message to the target audience?
- How does the target language version read and can you see room for improvement?
To truly sharpen your translation skills, you need to continue sharpening your writing skills!