Category Archives: English to Spanish translation

Tools to take your translation skills to the next level

Translating texts from a language to another might come natural to some people. Most of them are raised bilingual, and it is basically effortless. However, most translators learn a language either at University or by going to some courses. No matter where you have learned a language from, you can always improve.

Sometimes, no matter how good of a translator you are, it might seem like you could have an even greater translation of the text. There is always a possibility to improve. In addition, you might just want to use some tools to either help you improve or to save you some time. For this reason, I have come up with some tools that have helped me when I had to work as English to Spanish translator.

  1. Translation Memory Software

This type of tool is probably one of the most known. What does this type of software do? Well, it basically splits the text that needs to be translated into some parts that are known as segments. The person translating the text keeps on translating, and at the same time, this software saves your text in a database that contains segments of text that have already been translated. If the program identifies a new segment of text that looks like a segment that has previously been translated, it suggests a translation that can be reused. It is possible that some of the programs do not use a database, but preloaded documents that are used as reference.

Here are some examples of translation memory programs: Trados, Similis, Meta Texis.

  1. Language search engine software

This type of search engines have a similar mechanism to traditional search engines, except for the fact that they do not search for the results on the Internet. They use a big database of translation memory to retrieve results. The main goal of these programs is to find in this database, some segments of texts that have been translated before, and which happen to match this new text that is going to be translated. One example of such program is: Linguee.

  1. Terminology management software

Another type of tool that can come in handy for translator is terminology management software. What does this type of tool do? Well, it basically lets the translation automatically look up terms from a new document in a database. A few of these programs even let the translator the possibility to add in the database some pairs of words that are synonyms. In addition, the translator has the possibility to see if the terms are translated correctly (according to the synonyms provided in the context), and then make the necessary adjustments. An example of this type of software is Termex.

  1. Alignment software

These types of programs give the translator the possibility to create a translation memory by using the same text. This means that the program analyzes the text in order to see whether there are some segments that repeat themselves. In addition, you can save the results and import them in a translation memory software, so that you can use it again in the future. An example of such software is: You Align.

  1. Other useful tools
  2. Proofreading software

Sometimes, you rush into translating a text. You write the translation fast, and, of course, some errors might slip. You might not even notice them. Maybe it is just a matter of a comma, or a matter of a simple accent that can change the whole meaning of a sentence. You can take cambio (= I change) and cambió(= he changed). By using a proofreading software, you can make sure that some errors that you might have not noticed are avoided.

  1. Grammar checking software

Proofreading sometimes mostly focuses on the spelling of the words, and not as much on the grammar. If you are a perfectionist, like I am, you could try to use these two types of programs together. After all, the quality of your work is what defines you. If you are a freelancer, like I am, the work that you do is your portfolio, and you want to keep your clients, by providing the best possible results. You should try using Gramarly, and I have even written a review about it, that you can read on my blog.

  1. A good dictionary

There are many online dictionaries available. I personally, prefer some that put the words into context. Such an example is Leo. After I look for a word to see the translation, what I would also normally do is to look it up on that language’s official dictionary. For example, for Spanish it is RAE (Real Academia Española), and for English OED (Oxford English Dictionary). Of course, you can use whatever suits you better. You can even rely on a physical dictionary, but it might take you more time.

As you can see, nowadays there are many different options for translators to use in order to take their skills to the new level, or even save them some time. Of course, there are many more useful tools that translators and freelancers alike can use, some of which are reviewed in this blog.

What I would advise you to do, is to at least try the tools that I have mentioned in this article. If for example, a program has a free trial, give it a go. It might even end up being the tool that you have always needed and did not even know that it would help you. After all, most of the greatest discoveries were made by accident. These tools might just be your happy accident.

So, I guess that now you have a few more aces down your sleeve. If you already use one of these tools or have tried them before, write me a comment in the comments section, and maybe we can compare opinions about it. Until then, I wish you “happy translations” and may you finish them fast and correctly. If not, use a proofreader.

Tips to improve your translating skills

Translating a text from English to Spanish might not be up your alley. It might seem easy at first, but the deeper you go, the harder it gets. However, you know what they say, with practice comes improvement. Work hard and anything is possible. If you want a shortcut to achieve a better English to Spanish translation, then, this is your chance. This article provides you with some tips and tricks to get you in a better translating shape. Seems great, right? Read on to see for yourself.

  • Read more

As simple as this tip might sound, it is key to improving your English to Spanish translating skills. Reading various texts from different domains will help you widen your vocabulary. You might ask yourself: why do I need to know the word for “bobby pin” in Spanish. Then, one day, you get to translate a text which has this word in it and you find yourself spending a few minutes trying to find it in the dictionary. Improving your vocabulary beforehand might seem a bit tedious, but it pays in the long run.

  • Learn expressions

I do not know how to stress this more. It is really important to know idiomatic expressions. The more you know, the less likely you are to make a fool out of yourself when translating them. You can try looking up whether some expressions in English have an equivalent expression in Spanish. This way, the text will not lose its meaning. Do not translate expressions word by word. It is a major mistake. Expressions are essential as they are a key part of the language. Please keep this in mind when you make your English to Spanish translation.

  • Try translating the same text back and forth

This could be a good exercise if you are starting to translate texts. The best thing that you can do is to try an English to Spanish translation and then translate the text back into English. See if it makes sense. Does it have the same meaning? If the answer is yes, then you are making the right move. If however, the answer is not positive, then you might just have to work a bit more on your translating skills. Trying out this exercise a few times will definitely make you a better translator. I guarantee it.

Making an English to Spanish translation could seem easy, but it can also come hard. However, there is always place for improvement. This is why you should try out these tips. See if they work. This might just be your shortcut to being a better translator. You never know. One step at a time, your skills will improve in no time. However, if you want something even faster, you can always hire an English to Spanish translator. After all, it is the fastest way to have your text ready in no time. Until then, you can practice your translating skills.

Pros and Cons of using translation programs

At least once in our lives we are faced with a text that we do not understand. We can either rely on a professional translator or use a translation program instead. However, these programs, although fast and useful, also have some problems. I guess we should get to it and start talking about the main advantages and disadvantages of using such programs.

Pros of using translation programs

  1. They are quite fast

Let’s face it. You simply copy the text, then you paste it, and in less than one minute the translation is ready. I am 100% sure that no human translator can do that. The best part about translation programs is they are not as time consuming as humans.

  1. Good for web pages

You are browsing on the Internet and you stumble upon a site that is in a foreign language that you either do not know or only know a few words in it. You really want to know what the site says, but you do not want to spend too much time looking up words in the dictionary or asking your friend to translate, then this is a good alternative.

  1. They are free

Most translation programs are free, which is quite a great advantage, due to the fact that professional translators could end up costing quite a lot. In addition, the majority of translation programs are available online, which means that there is no need to download and install any additional programs.

  1. Good for getting the overall message

If you want to have a general idea about what the text is about, using translation programs is a great option. Most of the words are translated correctly and so, you will be able to understand the main message of the text.

Cons of using translation programs

  1. They do not contextualize

One of the main problems that people are faced with when using a translation program is the fact that words are not always translated according to their context. Some words have more than one meaning and translation programs usually take the first one as being the correct one. This causes confusion most of the time and can give the text a whole new meaning.

  1. Bad for idioms and expressions

As mentioned above, translation programs do not translate the words according to their context. This is why it is better to use dictionaries, to ask a native, or rely on a professional translator in the case of idioms and expressions.

  1. Not accredited

If you need your legal documents to be translated, it is advisable to rely on a professional translator as these programs are not viable. It is better to be safe than sorry.

If you want to use a translation program and the translation seems to be quite correct from your point of view, but you are not 100% sure, there is still something that you can do. You can rely on a professional proofreader to correct any mistakes that might have slipped. If you happen to have other pros and cons of using translation programs, do write them in a comment.

Professional non-native translator vs non-professional native

Throughout our lives we have at least once found a text in an other language that needed to be translated. If not a text, a song, if not a song, then we have at least one in our lives seen a movie in a foreign language. What did we do in order to understand the movie? We used subtitles.

It is also true that we sometimes use translation programs such as Google Translate, but they are not always reliable. For more accurate translations, we have to rely on either professional translators and natives. One question does come into mind. When should be use a professional non-native translator and when should be use a non-professional native?

Professional non-native translator

A professional non-native translator is a person who supposedly studied one or two foreign languages and has the necessary certifications and qualifications to translate a certain text.

One of the main advantages of hiring a professional non-native translator is the fact that he or she is familiar with the terminology specific to certain domains. For example, a professional non-native translator is more likely to be able to translate documents from fields ranging from Medicine to Geology and Sports. Meanwhile, non-professional native speaker might not be familiar with specific terminology.

Another aspect of choosing to hire a professional non-native translator is the fact that he or she may be able to legally translate documents. For example, if you are going to apply for a job in a different country, a professional translator will properly and legally translate your document for you. In that case you need a sworn translator.

One of the negative aspects of hiring a professional non-native translator is the fact that it might result in being costly. This however, depends on the length of your text. The more pages you have, the more it will cost to translate it. However, most of the time it is worth the financial effort.

Non-professional native

A non-professional native is simply a person who has a certain language as its first language. He or she does not have the necessary certifications and qualifications to translate a certain text. However, he or she has been speaking that language for all of his or her life.

A native is great for translating the idiomatic expressions. He or she is more familiar with the spoken language and, as a consequence he will know most idioms and phrases that you might not find in a dictionary. He or she will be more familiar with the slang and can also help you understand the context of things.

One of the negative aspects of hiring a non-professional native is that he or she does not have the ability to translate texts containing specific vocabulary from a certain field. This is where you should contact a professional translator to do the job.

So, I guess that now you know when you should hire a professional non-native translator and when to rely on a non-professional native.

I personally only translate to my native tongue: Spanish. I have proofread enough professional non-native translator texts to know they never look as natural as they should. So if you do not want to spend money in proofreading, you have only one choice: a professional native translator. But remember, they should be native in the language they are going to write, and not in the original language.

Helpful and Simple Tools for Translators

If you are a freelancer, like myself, who speaks multiple languages and is occasionally tasked in writing pieces in both, then you will know how difficult this task can be. No matter your academic prowess in a second language, there will always be words that you come across and don’t know how to translate, or grammatical constructions that you are slightly unsure of.

In the world of freelancing, it is important to make sure your articles are perfect, in which case the grammar and spelling must be spot on. As a Spanish freelancer, I often write in Spanish as well as English and also translate, and thus I have found some helpful online tools to help me when I come across something tricky.

First of all, I would suggest avoiding Google Translate. Although it may give you a correct word, Google’s algorithm is not very efficient when it comes to translating sentences. Sometimes it spouts out an incorrect word order, messing up a sentence completely, and sometimes – given that Google Translate cannot process context – it slots the wrong word into the sentence. For example, in English, the singular and plural forms of the word “fish” are the same, but this is not the case in Spanish; Translate cannot understand which form of the noun you are wanting to use, and so it may give you an incorrect translation.

This moves us onto SpanishDict, an incredibly useful and accurate translator tool. Again, it becomes a little trickier when translating sentences, but SpanishDict is a little more accurate on this front. When it comes to individual words, however, this website offers you a whole selection of words which might be appropriate, featuring example sentences and brief definitions to ensure that you are using the correct word for the specific context.

Additionally, WordReference is a more accurate tool, also featuring handy definitions and examples. However, WordReference does not give the option to translate more than one word at a time, unless the phrase is a well-known idiom. This can dissuade you from typing whole paragraphs in at a time, which can improve accuracy if you are someone who is tempted to do such a thing. In terms of colloquialisms and slang, SpanishDict is a better tool to use, but for a compiled dictionary of terms, WordReference is extremely helpful.

For the more traditional people out there, a dictionary may be the way to go. After all, a dictionary is a very trustworthy source that also provides helpful definitions to help you choose the right word.

In terms of grammar, there are grammar books available in stores to simplify those difficult constructions. But in addition, there are free online sites such as StudySpanish which contain hundreds of pages on various parts of the Spanish grammar system.

Furthermore, if you feel like your knowledge on the language is slipping drastically and you need a refresher course, there are also online courses you can take. For example, I teach an online Spanish via Skype to help people learn. Similarly, there are apps like HelloTalk which connect you with a native speaker of the language – it never hurts to ask!