As we all know, doing translation means you have to be proficient in both languages. For me, target language skill is more important. Maybe that’s more like a born gift, or we can trace back to our school times when we learnt the language. However, we can still improve that by more practice.
I found that my Chinese is poor when it comes to translation. Some people would say, as a native Chinese, how can your Chinese be bad? Well, of course we don’t have problems to express whatever we want in daily life. Even we are good at writing, it can’t guarantee that you can do good in translation. The reason is that when we are writing article in your language, you would tend to spontaneously write it in a natural form as the way we talk. However, when you are translating, you are apt to be misled by the sentence structure of the source language, which would make it sound weird. How to cope with what problem? Practice makes perfect.
As a freshman in this field, I always experience situation like this: you know what the source text means exactly, while you try to put that into target language, it just sounds weird. Then you modify that, but you have been reading that sentence for so many times that you can’t see its problem anymore. Your brain gets tired. You need to take some time off. So for the first round of translating, I wouldn’t be obsessed over a single sentence for a long time. For even I do, it does not help much. Instead, I would edit them for a second round. When I finish translating, I am more relaxed and can see mistakes more clearly. I can see those awkward Chinese sentences and then rephrase them in a more natural way.
That’s why when we do translating, we don’t really see our own problem, whereas we see other people’s problems clearly when we do editing.
Checking the after- editing file of your translation is helpful, too. You did your best to make the translation quality better, but you still found that there are still a lot of spaces to improve when you get to see other people try to improve your version. Then you should learn from that, and never make the same mistakes afterward. Meanwhile, it helps to refine your language skill gradually.
Translation is a tough job, only with great perseverance and determination, plus, constantly learning can we do it well. It was said that a good translation equals creation, maybe even harder than that. But when we see other people’s work turn into another piece of art in our own language, all the hard work was paid off.