What makes a great translator?
Financial services translation poses some interesting challenges for marketers – technical terms and time constraints being just two among many. In this post, we talk about the skills that great translators possess and we share some tips on choosing the translator that’s right for you.
Core skills of a great translator
1. Technical knowledge specific to your field
It’s not just enough to be a native speaker. A great translator must have an intimate knowledge of your industry … and its idiosyncrasies. Not only is financial services filled with technical terms but it is also bursting with jargon that only an experienced translator can handle.
2. Critical thinking and passion
These are two sides of the same coin. Critical thought without passion may result in overly technical language when translated, while passion without critical thinking may lead to engaging translations that miss the mark. Great translators have both.
3. Accomplished composition
A great translator’s output is written well, understood easily by the right audience and captures the meaning of the original copy. When certain English terms (e.g., idioms, product names, clever plays on words, etc.) just don’t translate well, the translator will have to adapt. This is definitely one of the more “writerly” skills, and one that makes translation closer to an art than a science.
It’s unfortunate but it happens again and again – your translators will have to work under a time crunch. Great translators can work under tight timelines, and they can make adjustments on the fly as work is sent their way.
How to find a find a great translator
1. Create a shortlist
Ask experienced colleagues and your peers for recommendations. There’s really no better way to find out who has financial services experience and who can be trusted to deliver high-quality work.
2. Screen them
Now we’re getting into the particulars. We think that the following three criteria will help you further refine your list: certification, experience and fees. Rate these three criteria in order of importance (depending on your needs, one may be of much greater value to you than another), and then move on to your next step.
3. Translation test
One test should do the trick because you don’t want to take up too much of your – or your potential translator’s – time. How technical should the language be? We think that your goals should not be to stump your translator. Rather, you want to test all four of the skills mentioned above. So, some technical language is ideal, though a PhD level thesis may be going overboard.