The translation industry is growing all the time. There are new technologies and translation types emerging every year and people flock to companies in search of career opportunities. There are all sorts of translation specialisations: medical, technical, business, literature and many more. Also one can choose from a variety of companies to get one’s project done or place the responsibility on a freelancer (sometimes a team of such). So what does it mean to be a good translator?

good translator

There are thousands of choices and combinations, but all in all there are also certain things that cannot be forgotten when hiring translators. These six will guarantee you proper workflow and successful cooperation.

So what skills/attributes must a good translator have?


Yes, it’s important, and we are not talking about political views or moral judgement. By “character” we mean a set of skills vital for a good translator: precision, conscientiousness, trustworthiness, patience and ability to concentrate for a long period of time. Sounds easy to find? It’s not a common mix of features, though!

Language skills

Here we do not only refer to vocabulary or grammar. There is something more to it. A good translator has to be able to sense the style, the context and the message of the text. Such sensitivity comes with knowledge of the cultural background associated with a certain language: books, movies, comic books, newspapers, songs, etc. Being immersed in the living language on a daily basis is also an important thing. Such a person will easily recognise formal, informal or technical style. The translator has to know and understand what exactly they are translating.

Knowing your own language

It sounds obvious but in fact the truth is that many experts try to become as good as they can at a foreign language while forgetting about mastering their mother tongue. It is in fact essential to know both the source and target language equally well.

Sticking to the topic

This part is strongly linked to language skills. Almost never should a translator do his/her job word by word. Such a translation would be lacking context and nuance. Of course, it is impossible to be an expert in everything, so the most reasonable option is to choose a specialty and acquire experience.

Information research

This skill is very useful for a translator. As human beings, our knowledge capacity has its limits and no one should expect us to know everything. But to find a proper source of information and verify it – this is vital to the cause. The work of a translator usually involves quick reacting and keeping up with the time schedule. With today’s access to many sources on the World Wide Web, it is easy to acquire knowledge very quickly. However, a good translator will always double-check the information because some sources may lack reliability.

Using the computer

Isn’t it obvious? Not exactly, as we are not talking only about such common things as sending an e-mail or using basic text editing software. So what skills do we have in mind? Touch typing, office software, knowledge of CAT tools – these are as essential to our profession as the knowledge of languages itself. What’s important to know: this is not rocket science and one can master it with proper guidance. Diuna LSP trains novice translators in the usage of CAT tools enforcing good habits right from the start of a career path. Remember: a good translator is the one that knows his/her tools perfectly!

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