The basics of translation and how to succeed in it

Most people know what translation is, but it’s good to think about the basics of translation work behind it and the impact it has on our daily lives.


Translation is an activity during which the interpretation of the meaning of a text is expressed in another language. Many translators don’t even consider their work as a job, but more as a craft that needs to be perfected.

Translation is used in many aspects of life, for example in books; many books that you have read may not have been originally written in English. Many movies or TV shows have also been translated and voiced-over to many different languages so people who speak only one language can enjoy them. This is the role of translators, so if a French person would like to watch an English movie, they can do that with ease.

Translation is also crucial in politics, news, science, history, and in every other part of your life, so translators should really get more recognition.

Life would be pretty difficult without translation. The world would possibly collapse since the countries could not communicate with each other anymore. Travel would be difficult, many books and movies would be unavailable to us, and our connections with people all over the world would be severely curtailed.

Of course, as technology progresses, we use our phones, computers, or other devices to translate online. Machine translation is imprecise and sometimes cannot convey true meaning.  So a translator’s job is valuable and very important.

Interpreting is a similar work to a translator. The difference is that a translator transfers ideas from one language to another in writing, while an interpreter does that orally or in sign language.

How do I create a career in translation and succeed in it?

Now that it’s established why translation is vital for everyday life, it is important to know what is the best way to use and succeed in it. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Begin by thinking of what languages you want to work with. 

Make sure you are fluent in them, it’s very important to make no mistakes in translation. Even the simplest mistakes can change the whole dynamic of the text and be misunderstood. So it’s crucial to be able to communicate in both languages effortlessly, and this will make the job easier.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Before seeking jobs in translation it’s very important to practice and understand which specialized type of translation you want to work with. There is a wide range; legal, literary, scientific, historical, dubbing of films and shows and many more to choose from. It is also possible to link it to your hobbies and interests.

Looking for jobs

Looking for jobs can be challenging, so it’s useful to start online. There are plenty of websites that will hire freelance translators. Working online enables you to understand the required work ethics and establish a base, which will help you find work more easily. Later you can apply to translation agencies, for a more professional job. However, working online is an excellent option as it is flexible.

Translation process

Firstly, it’s important to fully read the text that you are planning to translate and analyze it carefully. Many new translators believe that translating is an exact science. It is more than that. It’s vital to be able to translate the meaning of the text rather than word for word.

Sometimes translating word for word is not possible and makes the text difficult to read and boring. It’s essential to bring your own knowledge of the idiom and subtleties of the language. Especially if translating a literary text.

Struggles along the way

Translating has its own challenges but it’s vital to be aware that some additional problems may occur. You might face difficulties such as problems with the source text; misspelled text, poorly written text, or obvious inaccuracies. Argon, dialect terms, unexplained acronyms, rhymes, puns, highly specific cultural references, and euphony can also present problems.

Criticism and measure of success

Criticism is useful and important and receiving critique does not mean you have failed in this career path. Critique should always be taken into consideration, otherwise, your work will not improve.

Individuals measure success differently, but the main goal of a translator is to make sure the source and target texts have the same message. It is also vital to neither add too much nor take too much away from the original text and ensure the grammar is correct. If these e two criteria are fulfilled then you will likely succeed as a translator.

Concluding thoughts about translation

Translation is definitely useful and beneficial in our daily lives. Imagine the loss of quality of life, empathy, and understanding if nothing was translated. The job of a translator is also certainly not easy. There are many people happily doing this job and many more aspiring to it. So if this is your goal, don’t hesitate.

The world is filled with the finished work of translators; books, movies, shows, food labels, and countless others. So if you’re bilingual, and want to contribute to the work of this unique group of people, now is the time to start.