USA Translations

3 Traits of a Good Translator in the USA: Fluency, Brevity and Experience

Posted on February 16, 2015 · Posted in Translation Quality

Often, businesses keep their written materials simple so that customers will be able to understand them. It’s really important to write concisely when it comes to brochures, catalogs and instruction manuals. So many of us have received instruction manuals which were translated from some other language and made no sense in English. If you’re taking your product to another country, you don’t want the people there to feel the same way about your brochures or instruction manuals. So it’s important to find a good translator in the USA. Here are a few qualities you should look for in translators:

  • Written fluency. Sometimes, people can speak a language very well; they would make great interpreters. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be good translators, which requires a different set of skills. If someone developed their foreign language skills merely by being immersed in a certain culture, chances are they speak better than they write. However, if they acquired their language skills by taking courses in addition to cultural immersion, they are probably good at writing, spelling, grammar etc.
  • Brevity. A good translator is someone who can get across what you’re trying to say with a minimum number of words. Sometimes, certain words are difficult to translate. For example, the German word “Kabelsalat” refers to a mess of cables like the one that you might have behind your TV and DVD player. Literally, the term means “cable salad.” It’s fun to hear the meanings of words like this. But a good translator would just say “mess of cables” and leave it at that instead of explaining further. As long as you get the point across, you don’t necessarily need to explain the poetic nature of words! You need to be able to appreciate language but also understand practicality if you want to be a translator.
  • Experience. In order to be a good translator, you need to be comfortable working with a wide variety of texts. You might be called upon to translate an advertisement, a brochure, a slogan, a social media comment or even a novel or short story. If a translator has worked on a number of different texts, they’ll probably be able to do a good job on whatever you present them with. Just as a writer builds writing skills by writing a number of different types of things, a translator can build translating skills by working on different types of texts.

Contact us for more tips on finding the right translator for you.