Translation – Turning Words Into Cash

Translation – Turning Words Into Cash

March 17, 2016 Work At Home - Starting Out 0

Information is a prerequisite for progress and development. However, sometimes this information is only available in languages foreign to the user. Fortunately, the existence of a translation industry is helping people overcome language barriers in their search for information. Translators, therefore, are seen as important spokes in the wheel of information dissemination.

Starting Out

Once you decide to become a translator, it is advisable to spend the first year or so gaining experience by working for agencies and identifying the rules and structure of the market. This will help you acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become a good translator.

To be a good translator, you should have an excellent command of the languages that you will be working in.

You must have ambition, passion and a desire to improve. It is important for you, as a translator, to care about your work.

A translator has to apply intelligence in her work. Merely translating words is not enough. You must go past the “language barrier” and into the subjects you are translating.


It is almost impossible to lay down standards for quality translation work. However, a translator can adhere to some simple rules that can serve as a guide.

Firstly, read the text thoroughly and determine whether you are competent to translate it. If you think that you cannot do it, do not accept the translation job. Next, make sure that the text you are given is complete, without bits missing here and there. Reading the text at this point also gives you a general idea of what it’s about.

Secondly, research the terms and concepts appearing in the text. This is where books on terminology can be of help. Compile a terminology list containing the unknown terms. You must understand that, depending on the context, certain terms can have completely different meanings.

Don’t start translating until you have established all the equivalent terms in the target language. Investing several hours’ or even days, for a longer project, in terminology research will save you a lot of time when you’re actually translating.

Thirdly, take particular care to make sure that your grasp of grammar and style of the language are equal to those of an educated native speaker.

Fourthly, adopt the style and flow of varying texts. For example, the style and flow of words will be different in a document on finance compared to one on marketing or technical specifications.

Fifthly, you must revise your own work, regardless of whether it is going to be revised by someone else afterwards. Revising means reading it through and examining it firstly for formal errors: sentence or word missed out; superfluous words; adherence to any instructions (e.g. US or UK English); adherence to customer-specific corporate language; spelling mistakes (remember that a spell-checker won’t distinguish, for example, between “she” and “the” – they’re both correct).

This is then followed by a second check for content errors: Has everything been understood and translated correctly? Has the terminology been correctly applied? Is the style and flow appropriate for the text?

It is absolutely important to remember that you, as the translator, are responsible for your work. You are responsible for ensuring that the text has been translated in accordance with any instructions given.

Skills And Resources

A good translator wastes little time in building up the skills and resources necessary to provide quality service.

With the personal computer being widely used nowadays, knowing touch-typing is a must. If need be, attend a course in touch-typing.

Many translators receive and submit work to regular clients via e-mail. Therefore, a personal computer with word processing software and Internet connection will be required.

The resources most necessary for translation work are dictionaries and books on terminology on various subjects.

A good dictionary for translators engaged in translating text from English to Bahasa Melayu is the English-Malay Translation Dictionary compiled by Ainon Mohd and Abdullah Hassan and published by Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd. Another is the Kamus Padanan Kata by the same authors and published by Penerbit Fajar Bakti Sdn Bhd.

Terminology books on various subjects for English-Malay or Malay-English translation can be obtained from the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Despite the availability of books, you may find the need to build up your own list of terminology as you progress in the world of translation. Such diligence can result in your own first-class reference library.

Related Article: Perfecting Your Translation Skills