Tag Archives: tips for English to Spanish translator freelancers

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!