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.

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