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From Good to Great in Translation & Editing

Step 1: Showing respect

Eager to make the leap from a good to excellent translator but are looking for guidance to make this leap successful?

The following guide outlines ALE’s cornerstone values for a sound and ethical translation, as well as tips and resources to reference in order to become an excellent translator. Before diving into a translation project, we recommend you review the core values that define our approach to translation as well recommendations to ensure you produce the highest quality work. 

Showing respect

We encourage translators to show respect for the author, their creations, the target readership, and how the language should sound. This can be accomplished by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Your target reader: Before starting, have a clear idea of the target reader. Try and envision your target reader while you translate. How formal is the writing? Is your reader most likely reading this text before a tense board meeting or while lying on the beach? 
  • Finding a balance: Academic texts are uniquely complex because they have to accurately reflect the original but also read smoothly in translation or they risk rejection by reviewers. Be sure to clarify: is the text intended for a specialist academic audience already familiar with the specific jargon and terminology or is it more intended for a general audience needing more background information?
  • The translators' greatest challenge is being loyal to the source text while creating an independent text that is clear and coherent on its own. For most of our clients, publication is the end goal and therefore you should give priority to the flow and clarity of the target text over-literal adherence to the source text. Read more about our approach to excellent translations.

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind the ‘do no harm’ principle. We want you to aim to produce work of the highest quality. However, it is critical that your changes do not introduce any errors, overstep the bounds of our role as translators by giving our own commentary, or misconstrue the author’s meaning. When in doubt, leave a comment, e.g.: “Please check if OK as edited/translated.” 

Take the time from the outset to do your homework, as it will guarantee you a smoother translation process.