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  • James Goodey

5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Translator

If you have a product or service and are looking to tap into local markets, at some point you'll need your content translated into the local language to maximise your reach.

So, what are the skills and traits to look for when hiring a translator?

A good translator must have these 5 qualities:

  1. linguistic expertise of more than one language

  2. experience of other cultures

  3. attention to detail

  4. industry expertise

  5. have a passion for languages

We'll look at these in a bit more detail, and we'll see how these skills need to align with what actually makes a piece of translation good:

  • accuracy in grammar and vocabulary to build trust in the product or service

  • coherence - does it still "flow" in the translated language

  • adapted naturally to make sure it's culturally appropriate

  • delivered on time!

When it comes to translating your work, whether it’s an E-book, video script, web content, advertising, marketing materials or even a contract in order to expand your target group or business opportunity, you need to make sure that the translation serves the original purposes.

So, let's dive in and take a look at the 5 qualities of a good translator in more detail.

1. The Translator Must Have Linguistic Expertise

Often, translators have spent time studying or living in other countries which has enabled them to not only acquire almost near-native language skills, but also pick up on other areas of language use such as slang and local dialect.

It's vital for translators to master regional differences and dialects, as these can have a significant influence on comprehension.

If the content being translated is of highly-technical nature, or using more formal language - a lot of extra time can be wasted by translators who need to search for meanings of unfamiliar words.

A good translator must also be able to use the right style and tone for which the content is intended. Translating website content for an online gaming platform will require a different tone to that of a business-focused website.

Tip #1 - Look for a translator who has a high-level qualification in English

2. Experience of Other Cultures

One word in the original language can have many different translation in the other language.

A good translator will be able to pick the best choice out of many to make the translations most natural and align best with the culture.

Let's look at the following sentence as an example:

“Listen, we will offer you 4% discount…”

When translated from English to Thai, the word “listen” can have two very different meanings.

  • listen to me

  • alright

But in Thai culture, telling a customer directly to listen to you is rather impolite, so the best translation to use here would be “alright”.

Tip #2 - Look for a translator who has lived or studied abroad for a significant period of time

3. Attention to Detail

When it comes to translating, nothing is more important than accuracy.

A good translator must be able to convey the message from the original language to the second language without changing the meaning.

Any piece of content that comes out of your company bears your name on it. Errors can effect the image of your company so it’s very important that you look for an eagle-eyed translator!

Of course, it may not always be possible for you to check the final copy if you're not familiar with the end language, so take a look any testimonials or social proof to see what others have said about them.

Tip #3 - Look for customer testimonials and social proof of previous projects

4. Industry Expertise

Personal experience always helps with choosing words in translation.

For example, If your business is based on professional service, a translator who used to work in the same industry will know better which tone to use in their translation than the one who is in literature background only.

There is some content which may often contain extensive jargon and complicated concepts that require the trained eye and knowledge of someone with experience in the field.

Tip #4 - Look for a translator who has a background in the same industry.

5. Passion for Languages

Translation can be stressful.

The best translators have a deep interest in language and translation that inspires them amid the pressure. They take pride in their work and are committed to continuous improvement and optimization.

Tip #5 - Look for a translator who has shown a desire to improve their language skills

Final Thoughts

It could be said that accuracy and the ability to adapt language into the local language naturally are the two most important skills, but all the 5 qualities listed above make a good translator worth paying for.

Our translator at James G Media lived in Oxford, UK for 3 years while studying English and has spent many years working in multinational companies in Bangkok, using English on a daily basis.

Get in touch with us if you're looking for high-quality content translation at great value. We would love to help you break into the Thai market successfully!

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