Improve Any Translation: Do This

Today's post is part of the "Quick Posts" series, which are entries you should be able to read in five minutes or less and that give you specific advice that you can implement very quickly.

We oftentimes get this question from students: How do I improve my second translation draft?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Deadline permitting: sleep on it. We are huge believers in negotiating deadlines that allow us to sleep on our second drafts. Translations are always better when you have more time.
  • Print out the translation. Read it on paper. We are tree huggers, but sorry, dear trees. Try to print on recycled paper, though.
After you've done that, read each and every single sentence individually and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this make sense? If not, what can you do about it?
  • Does this sound translated? If yes, what can you do about it?
  • Does this sound idiomatic?  If not, what can you do about it?
  • Would someone who doesn't see the source text understand the target?  If not, what can you do about it?
We hope you have enjoyed today's Quick Post. We'd love to hear from you, too. Just leave a comment below.


Dolores on March 27, 2015 at 3:53 PM said...

THANKS Judyta! I shared it! I believe this is a proven success if done appropriately. Thanks for sharing your awesome everyday steps.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 27, 2015 at 7:06 PM said...

@Dolores: Our pleasure, dear Dolo! Sometimes we think it's helpful to share the little things that can make a huge difference in translation. Happy Friday!

EP on March 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM said...

Good tips! You've got to have a system like that. Thanks.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 30, 2015 at 10:26 AM said...

@EP: Thanks, dear EP! We think these tricks can be really useful, and we love to hear tricks from other colleagues as well. If you have one to share that you really like: please do! Happy Monday.

Viviana Spicer on March 31, 2015 at 9:59 AM said...

I definitely agree that sleeping on it helps so much. I have noticed drastic improvement in my translations when I've slept on them :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 31, 2015 at 6:23 PM said...

@Viviana: Yes, for sure! The more time one has, the better the translation usually is. It's amazing how differently one sees a translation with fresh eyes, isn't it? Thanks for eading and for commenting.

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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