Translators Need More Than Just Language Skills

This article is originally published at translation-blog.multilizer.com.

Translation work is not the same as it used to be. Today translators need to have many kinds of skills just to meet the common requirements of the industry. The days when language skills were enough are history now. This development may sound too much for some translators, but the example of innovative translators shows that it’s up to the attitude. It’s not a threat, it’s an opportunity. The list of useful translator skills includes at least the following:

Technology skills – The ability to read and write have been default skills for translators. (An exception proves the rule also in this case.) Nowadays writing and reading is done mostly on screen. Thus every translator need to know how to use a computer and all the included translation tools. There are several programs designed for editing, writing, collecting, saving and sending which help and ease a translator’s work. When used correctly, translation memories, machine translators and translation editors can help translators to work more efficiently and profitable. In addition software translation and localization set their own challenges to translators’ technical skills. However some tools ease the translators’ work. For example, Multilizer localization tools reduce the need for deep technical skills.

Virtual communication skills – Online working is a big trend also in translation world. The ability to use online translator tools is important, but virtual working asks for other kind of abilities, too. Online working can be extremely lonely. It is possible to work without seeing or meeting other project participants. Communication through online methods, like e-mail, Skype, chat, message boards etc, can be problematic due to the different time zones, languages or cultures. To avoid any possible misunderstandings, one should pay attention to online communication style. Likewise all the instructions and other materials should be written carefully. Unclear communication and imprecise instructions can lead to many questions which can lengthen the project remarkably, especially when the project participants are located on different sides of the globe.

Working skills – Virtual working environment challenges translators old working methods and habits. It is totally different to translate a full-length novel than a small smart phone application. While the availability to hire a translator has expanded within the virtual revolution, the size of a translation project can be anything starting from only a few words. This trend also applies to the duration of the project: smaller project take less time. Today translators’ work can be very fragmented.

Multi-tasking skills – Short-term working usually means that there are several tasks to do at the same time: working on one project, finishing another one, negotiating on next project, searching for new ones etc. Less time will be spent on actual translation. When every project can be different, the translator need to have very flexible attitude towards his or her profession. An open mind on learning new things, can take a long way.

Here we had some important skills for today’s translators. What skills would you add to this list?

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4 thoughts on “Translators Need More Than Just Language Skills”

  1. Today in almost every field it is required multitalented people. Be it in software company or in the translation business. If you want to compete within this race world you have to prove your competency in almost everything that is related to the translation business. And the post is the living wage for translating human being. So if you want to survive in the war field of the name ‘Earth’ you have to remain competent in all aspect of living. What say?

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