A Translator's Most Important Skills

Posted by Athena Parthenos

Do you know all the skills professional translators are required to have? People often think that a degree in foreign languages is enough to start a career either as a freelance or in-house translator. But, as with any other job, it requires study, knowledge, and a strong will to improve one's skills.

But which skills does a translator actually need?

Here are the five most important ones according to us.

Excellent writing skills

Translators usually translate from the source language into their mother tongue. In this process, writing is one of their main skills. In fact, when translating, they need to perfectly comprehend the source text and turn it into their mother tongue, keeping all the original meanings and shades and making the translated text flow smoothly. It has to have a good rhythm and be enjoyable and easy to understand for the new audience. For this reason, translators must master their own language perfectly.

A translator's most important skills
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Reading and comprehension skills in the source language

Translators must be fluent or almost fluent in their source language and must understand it perfectly. This means that translating involves never-ending study, as translators must keep up with the evolution of the language. Spending some time in a foreign country, for instance, can be a useful way to improve listening and speaking skills.

Cultural knowledge

Language and culture are interconnected. For instance, there are a lot of expressions that were born inside the specific culture of a certain language. Translators must recognize them and explain the concept in the language they are translating into. Cultural knowledge is especially important when it comes to marketing translations; in this case, translators must have not only impeccable translation skills but also knowledge of the culture behind the target market.
Moreover, translators can become useful partners for all aspects relating to the internationalization of a company—for instance, when they want to open a new branch abroad or expand their business in a market for the first time.

Specialization in one field of expertise

Specializing in one field means providing better service. Some fields, like scientific, pharmaceutical, or technical areas, require a kind of knowledge that goes far beyond language skills. In these cases, translators must know about the topic and product in order to make the translation understandable to its final readers and avoid embarrassing mistakes. Think, for example, about user manuals or patient information leaflets.

Self-motivation and discipline

Translating can be a tough job; it requires great concentration, attention to detail, and a lot of self-discipline. What is more, translators are often required to work with tight deadlines, and this can be a cause of stress. This is why translators must have organizational and time management skills. The most important thing is that they keep a proactive and positive mindset that helps them face difficult times.

A Translator's Most Important Skills
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At Athena Parthenos, we work with professional translators who specialize in different fields of expertise who work in more than 129 language combinations. Click here for further info about our translation services.

If you liked this article, check out:

Business: Multiculturalism and Language Skills Matter

Translators and Interpreters: Improvising is Banned

Positive Attitude: The Right Weapon to Face a Translation

Written by Marcella Sartore, Marketing & Communication Assistant @ Athena Parthenos

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