Translating can be a very finicky, time-consuming job, but there are certain things that will make it easier. Here are just a few tips for those who are considering a professional career as translators.

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  1. Pay Attention to Nuance

Unless you’re translating something technical, most people don’t want literal, word-for-word recreations of the original text. They want something that captures the tone, personality and cultural context of the words while still remaining faithful to their original meaning. You’ll need to pay close attention to nuance to straddle the line between these two worlds.

  1. Know Your Limits

Even fluent speakers can slam into linguistic roadblocks. For example, you might speak perfect Japanese as a 21st century layman, but that doesn’t mean that you know anything about the formal speech patterns of 13th century emperors. Think about it: You wouldn’t necessarily be able to translate old English into modern English just because you’re a native speaker, right? It’s best to leave these specialized areas to the people who have studied them.

  1. Buy the Right Equipment

Maybe you like to translate out loud with a dictation device. Maybe you have a demanding job that requires the use of simultaneous translation equipment. You don’t have to justify your choices to anyone; as long as it keeps you happy, productive and engaged with the text, consider it a necessary tool of the job.

  1. Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to reach out to an older, wiser or more native speaker if you’re having trouble with a particular translation. Even if they can’t give you the perfect words, they might be able to inspire a new spark or brainwave by providing an outside perspective on the text. It’s easy to get so consumed in a project that you stop looking at it objectively, but a third party can help.

  1. Keep Studying

This is especially important if you work in a marketing industry or anywhere that you might be expected to know current, up-to-date lingo. Languages are constantly evolving, and if you don’t stay on top of new words, phrases, suffixes and slang terms, your translations won’t be as accurate as they could be.

These are just five things to keep in mind as you make a living as a professional translator. Whether you’re working on ancient poetry or modern-day cookbooks, these tips should help you find success. Good luck!