Each translator has their tricks, and there is no doubt that by using some simple enough translation strategies, our profession is not as difficult as it may sometimes seem. Today I would like to share with my readers 10 useful translation techniques , which I have used for more than 10 years as a English German translator.
Resource no. 1: IATE
IATE is the European Union’s terminology base. Any document which has ever been translated at E.U. level, you can find it here. All indexed and ready-prepared for us. The biggest advantage of using IATE, and it’s greatest compliment, is that there is no doubt at all about its professionalism. While in some online forums it is not quite clear where the information comes from, here it comes directly from the E.U. The good: guaranteed professionalism and much information for the translation of legal and technical texts. The bad: a slightly messy and slow user interface.
Google is the most well-known and obvious tool for translators. Here, we can find an unlimited number of texts, dictionary and specific glossaries. One trick that I like to use is to introduce the text, word or phrase to be translated in English, and add the “google search operator” site:de. The result: all originally German websites which contain our English search term. Which means that we are presented with a list of probably originally German websites which have been translated to English. A good example of how we can benefit from previous work carried out by other translators.
Resource no. 3: the address bar
Our web browser’s address bar permits us to change language on a multilingual site quickly, a little-known shortcut. For example, if our search result is a product description of, say, a washing machine, and the address bar reads something like this “http://washingmachines.de/models/de/newwashingmachine.htm”, then, by replacing the language code “de” with “en”, it is highly probably that we can access a description of the same appliance in English, by typing the following in out address bar: “http://washingmachines.de/models/EN/newwashingmachine.htm”.
Resource no. 4: the search bar
Let’s talk some more about web browsers. One notable trend is that the latest versions of web browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 (currently in release candidate stage), do not have a search field anymore. This is all very well for general web surfing, but for a translator, having the possibility to add your custom web dictionaries to your list of one-click accessible search engines is absolutely necessary. For me, the best browser is currently Opera 11. With only one clic, you can add your dictionaries to the search box: Just righ-click into the search field on the web site, and choose “create search”, and voilá, you have a new shortcut.
Trick no. 5: Paper
This is really more of a general trick for all translators. Make sure that you never run out of paper and that you have your printer working (Yes, I know, printers can be bitches sometimes…), and print each and every text before sending it off. In 10 years’ worth of english-german translation work, I have come to believe that you never see mistakes on a computer screen the same way you can spot them on paper. So, you still have a few hours left before deadline? Print yours stuff off, head to the pub, and read the text, as if it had been written by someone else. Putting extra distance between yourself and the text you have just translated is the best way to achieve a useful self-correction.
Got some more translator’s tips? Let me know in the comments!