Translation Tips and Tricks from the Experts

People often mention that they would like to learn translation. I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks with you, as well as those of my colleagues. As the joke goes, translation depends on context. Therefore, none of the things I am about to share is a rule. It’s simply what has worked for me and my coworkers. Kings of Translation is an company that consists of a team of professional and young translated diploma. Our skilled and experienced team is able to provide both written and verbal written document translation near me to a professional level.

A word on definitions. Translation is a vast field. For the purposes of this article, however, I will be focusing on the part of translation that I do: I translate written literary prose from Polish into English.

Software and hardware

Everybody has their own tools and methods. A classic split screen is my preference: a PDF of the Polish text on one side, and a Word document with English on the other. My electronic dictionary is always open. I also use a web browser to search for information. A two-volume Polish-English dictionary is also available.

Literary translators rarely use translation software. This is because it’s more helpful for technical texts. Some people use transcription software to type out their text or listen to the audiobook. It is also very useful to read your own translation aloud – especially when you are translating dialogue.

Vocabulary and idioms

Translating words one at a time into English is only one part of translation. While you want to stay true to the original words, there are many tricky ones that require you to be creative.

Beginning translators make the common mistake of choosing the first or the second definition when looking up words in dictionaries. […] I enjoy looking up words I already know in order to see if there are subtleties of meaning beyond the obvious first and second denotations. I often do internet searches for colloquial terms that I don’t understand. This allows me to see their usage in everyday contexts.

Grammar & syntax

Grammar is something I love to hate. Polish can do things English cannot, but English can do things English can’t. Therefore, I look for ways to make English as useful and effective as possible.

However, English and Polish grammar are quite different. There are no easy conversion rules between them. For example, the Polish perfective or imperfective is used in a very different way to the English perfect or imperfect. It is often helpful to look at the entire sentence from a different perspective. After I have understood all of the information in Polish, I ask myself how I would translate it into English. This helps me to understand the English grammar and prevents me from getting too stuck in the Polish structures.

A few final words of wisdom

Perhaps you are wondering if your ability to translate is something that you might want to improve upon. You might think of translators either as scholars who are enviable and always at the desk, or jet-setting citizens fluent in many languages.

Translators come from many backgrounds. You don’t have to be a native speaker of a language to translate. Many successful translators are not native English speakers, or they work in a language that they have learned or grew up speaking. Monolingual speakers may even be able to pair up with native speakers of the source language and work together as a team.