Translating is never an easy task. A good translator must be well-versed in both languages, but even that isn’t enough. There are many factors that you, as a translator, must pay specific attention to if you hope to authentically translate Spanish to English.
By now, you’re probably aware of many of these factors. It’s unlikely that you’ve stumbled into translation completely blind, but it’s often quite easy to forget or overlook the things we know to be true. Luckily, this list of translation advice will help to lay it all out for you.
The Importance of Translating Spanish to English
Translation, whether it’s Spanish to English or English to Spanish or any other assortment of languages, is a crucial job. Translating text is among the most prominent ways to bring people and cultures together.
The nature of the text itself renders most of its importance. If someone feels the need to translate something in the first place, then there must certainly be some underlying importance to the original text. You, as a translator, must not lose sight of this fact.
Your services will be compensated monetarily, but take pride in the fact that you are helping to tear down language barriers and bring people together.
On top of that, we’re talking about two of the most popular languages on Earth. Hundreds of millions of people, scattered around the globe, happen to speak these languages. In a sense, you’re not only working for your employer — you’re working for them!
Translating the Other Way?
Read our article on 5 tips for translating from English to Spanish.
As you may have already started to figure out, translation requires much more than just speaking both languages. Sure, that’s the first step — and it’s a crucial one, mind you — but it’s only scratching the surface of what being a translator truly is.
Here are some of the major things to consider when getting started. They will help you take your translations to the next level.
Just like in English, Spanish conjugations serve the purpose of altering a verb to reflect things like who the person is, the number of people, or the tense.
Although conjugations serve the same purpose in both languages, they are incorporated differently when it comes to Spanish. Nonetheless, if you could do it in English, there’s no reason you can’t do it in Spanish. It’s the same principle, just applied differently.
As a translator, it is incumbent on you to focus on Spanish conjugations and make sure that you understand them properly. Otherwise, you might misunderstand what’s being said and make an inaccurate translation. As mentioned earlier, conjugations reflect the context around a verb, so you must understand this context to properly translate text to English.
Be Mindful of Locale
By now, you must already be well aware of how distinct specific regional dialects of Spanish can be. Although broadly speaking, it’s all under the umbrella of Spanish, there are many differences that a translator must be made aware of.
For that reason, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the quirks of the dialects you plan to translate into English.
Do some research, ask questions, or even relegate yourself solely to the dialects you know. Being able to differentiate these regional differences will play a large part in determining how effective your translations will be for readers in those regions.
This relates to translations of all stripes: you must thoroughly research the job you’re getting yourself involved with. If not for your sake, then for the sake of the client.
The goal of the job is just as important as the meaning of the text. Oftentimes the lines between the two are blurred. It’s your job as a translator to be completely aware of what the goals of your respective client are. For you to translate the text effectively, you must know what the client’s intentions are and what they hope to achieve with your work.
Make sure you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the goals and aspirations of those who are hiring you. That way you’ll understand what they’re looking for and provide it for them to the best of your abilities.
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Don’t Translate Text Word-for-Word
Translating word-for-word is not your job. That’s what a robot does and you are, by no means, a robot!
The most important factor in translating is understanding the original meaning of the text. The meaning is, above all else, the thing that must be present in your translation.
Oftentimes, when you focus entirely on translating something word-for-word you lose the actual meaning of the message.
Certain things cannot be translated directly into English, no matter how hard you try. What’s worse, your attempt to do so may serve to muddle the message because the direct translation no longer makes sense in English.
So, do your best to derive the most accurate meaning surrounding the texts you are assigned and do your best to translate that into English.
Be Wary of Idioms and Expressions
Certain things in Spanish simply won’t make any sense in English. This is most often the case with expressions.
Expressions are tricky. They often relate to universal truths, but the problem is in how these truths are relayed. Many expressions revolve around commonalities among specific regions or cultures such that it won’t make sense to anyone outside the fray.
What’s more, the expressions themselves often include phrasing that can only accurately be portrayed within the language in which it was conceived. Translations of these will typically come across as awkward or incoherent.
So, it’s best to either avoid the expression altogether and find a new way to convey that same message or try to find an English equivalent.
Do You Know the Main Dialects of Spanish?Read our article on the 8 varieties of Spanish
Go With Your Gut
It might not be the most assuring translation advice out there, but it’s true. Translating is a job that imbues you with a certain sense of autonomy and, in turn, responsibility.
You’re the final authority on how these texts will be translated.
You need to utilize your own better judgment to try and work through how to best relay a given message in another language. Word choice, grammar, tone: these are all things you must be acutely aware of. It’s your responsibility to accurately portray these to the best of your abilities in the English translation.
The uncertainty may seem scary, but it’s also what makes the job fun and unique to you. There’s a reason why someone opted to hire an actual person instead of just relying on Google Translate. The latter will never be as efficient or authentic as you, so do everything in your power to showcase that reality.
Proofreading your text is important when it comes to ALL writing jobs, but especially translations.
Although a large portion of your job is converting text from one language to another, you’re also a writer. Sure, you weren’t the person who conceptualized the original text, but you are responsible for bringing it to life in another language.
That’s why you need to be as diligent when it comes to ensuring the quality of the writing as you are with providing an accurate translation. Be sure to thoroughly proofread your work and even enlist the help of a colleague if you want some fresh eyes looking at it before submission.
Hopefully, this list has provided you with some food for thought. Again, just knowing English and Spanish is not sufficient enough to be a full-on translator — it’s a start, but there’s so much more to it.
If anything, this article should have served the purpose of illuminating just how much goes into the job. This list isn’t meant to discourage you, but rather to encourage a broadening of what it means to be a translator. If being bilingual was all it took, we’d be seeing a lot more translators.
Ultimately, it’s upon you to do your due diligence and give this task your full attention. Don’t take it lightly, you ought to treat it with the importance that it deserves. If you do that, you’ll translate Spanish to English like a true expert!
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