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6 features of a good translator

por December 2, 2022No Comments

Discover the 6 features of a good translator and check that knowing “very well” the languages of the and to which it is translated is not enough.


Do you know what the characteristics of a good translator are? To understand the difference between good translators and average translators, just think of those translations that allow us to understand the idea, but that sound forced, unnatural and even erroneous. (In the subtitles of Woody Allen’s new film,
A Rainy Day in New York,
they translated scoop as “try”, but in the context of the tape it means “scoop”).

At ICO we are dedicated to making content and, from a time to go, these have also involved the translation of courses and marketing materials of the best universities. Having edited more than a million translated words, we concluded that the ideal translator is one who delivers pieces that appear to have been originally written in the language to which it is being translated. To accomplish this task, at ICO we work only with those collaborators who have the following characteristics:

1. Native speaker

If something needs to be translated into Spanish, the translator’smother tongue

must be Spanish. If it is to be translated into Portuguese, the translator’s mother tongue must be Portuguese… And so on. Why? Because mastering a language at the most subtle levels is no easy task, and knowing a language ((competence) well does not necessarily involve writing well in that language (performance).

2. Good writer

A good translator should write VERY, VERY, but VERY WELL. To deliver a quality work, the translator must master the written language,that is, not make spelling or writing errors, because we all know that a misplaced coma can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

3. Have editorial criteria

At ICO this is the feature that interests us the most. The editorial criterion is what allows the translated document to appear to have been originally written in the language to which it was translated.

Literal or automatic translations have the peculiarity of generating texts that are not read naturally and feel “foreign”. In addition, when the translated text will be consumed in different Latin American countries, the translator should avoid expressions that are only understood in his country.

4. Cult

Having culture is a requirement for almost any job. In the case of translation, culture is vitally important to understand the context from which the translated document comesfrom. Without this understanding, the translation will not be sufficiently accurate.

5. Organized

A translator’s work relies heavily on an organized mental structure that allows him to concentrate so that he can say in another language what went through someone’s mind elsewhere. In addition, translation schedules usually have tight due dates, so someone who doesn’t have a structured work methodology probably won’t deliver on time.

6. Good researcher

Translating involves investigating. It’s just putting in Spanish a word that comes in English. Sometimes certain terms already have an established translation that is important to respect and, for that, it is necessary to investigate. In addition, it is vital to respect the jargon of the document theme; for example, if it is a translation on machine learning,

, it should be noted that the term remains in English because this is how it is used within the world of computing.

A good translator knows which sources to consult and does not get carried away by the first result that Google throws. For translation topics themselves, Linguee and WordReference are two tabs that will always be open in the browser of those translators who want to do their job very well.

Do you need to translate pieces to strengthen your content strategy? At ICO we can help you

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Laura Mier

Author Laura Mier

Editora, creativa especialista en guionismo para televisión y adicta a las historias en todas sus presentaciones.

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