Some tips to become a good interpreter/translator

Australianism in Interpretation and Translation

Australian delegates sometimes use colloquialisms which are quite difficult to transpose into other languages. These words are often used deliberately to be amusing.

Some expressions such as ‘things are crook’ and ‘scumbags’ are often heard on TV and radio and we often think they are English. However, they are more likely to be Australianisms and may not be completely understood at an international forum.

Therefore, it’s very important for an interpreter at a beginner level to prepare for how to interpret these type of expressions into your native language. Here are some examples:

–          To cut off your nose to spite your face.

–          You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

–          To hook up with.

–          To get on the gravy train.

–          Rubbery figures.


Preparation of a glossary

For any translator or interpreter, it’s always important to build a glossary of important words in many fields such as banking, tax, finance, construction, government, architecture and medicine . When checking the meaning and putting these words into the glossary, you can prepare yourself and have a rough idea of what terms are likely to come up in the translation or interpreting assignment.

The words in the glossaries can be arranged in alphabetical order so you can sort them and find them easily when you need to. Alternatively, they can be arranged in topic order too.

Keep adding more words to your glossaries as you continue your research in many fields. Glossaries are often more useful than dictionaries as they are more specific and related to the field, while dictionaries often only focus on the more common and general words.

Don’t worry about these words being complex as after two or three times of being used they will become familiar to you.

Dr Na Pham – Sydney Language Solutions – 2012

How to Become a Better Translator?

Planning to become a NAATI Accredited Translator?

Check the video below and get some tips to become a better translator 🙂

What is a back translation? Why is it so important?

Technically, it is the practice of translating a text that has already been translated into a foreign language (TL) back to the original language (SL) – preferably by an independent translator other than the original translator.

Back translation is normally deployed for the purpose of verifying the quality of the finalized product. Sometimes it does improve the readability, accuracy and validity of a translation by requiring that the quality of a translation is verified by a different translator translating back into the source language (LOTE).

Back translation is not routinely performed in that the majority of the clients might still favour traditional proofreading rather than back translation. Original version and back translated version are compared after back translation. By and large, owing to its high cost and various other reasons, back translation is not being extensively applied, but in situations which entail high risk and high return, it could be worth the financial investment.

Should you always listen to a complaint from your customers or your bilingual staff that the translation is not correct?

The notion that any bilingual individual can be a qualified translator or a proof reader is a falsified one in that the professional competence of a translator entails much more than mere bilingualism.

The fundamental requirements of a professional translator comprehend bilingualism, biculturalism, proficiency in practical translation skills and preferably some basic translation theories as well as massive experience in writing. It takes years of professional training and practice to achieve all these requirements. As a result, customers or normal bilingual individuals are probably not in a position to offer unbiased, professional and accurate opinion on the work of a professional certified translator.

Some clients do have the tendency to ask their bilingual staff to do the proofreading on the work of a professional translator and this issue needs to be put on the table and addressed immediately. Having said that, it is the responsibilities of the translator to explain in detail why the translation needs to be done in the way it was done so that the client and the translator can reach an agreement on the final product.

What is the difference between Mandarin used in China and Mandarin in Taiwan and Macao or Hong Kong?

The fundamental difference between Mandarin used in mainland China and Mandarin used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao lies in some of the particular terms and vocabularies, especially in the field of politics, literature and religion.

Sometimes daily conversational expressions might differ as well whereas the essential syntax remains quite similar. In terms of spoken discourse, one of the most prominent features of Mandarin Chinese, the four tones system, is basically identical between the two dialects of Mandarin.

Is there often any change in length when translating from a LOTE to English? Why?

Sometimes due to the disparity in cultural backgrounds and the lack of lexical equivalents in the target language, the translators are required to provide a little bit more information regarding the socio-cultural background so that the target audience might have a better understanding of the message the author tries to convey.

The situation is especially so in translating culture specific idioms that involve metaphors. But the situation might differ when the translator has a profound knowledge of both the source culture and the target culture along with a proficiency in writing in the target language, therefore, able to achieve a translation of more or less the same length of the source text.

The point is that the target texts do not have to be lengthier than the source texts.

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January 2018
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