5 Points to Remember Before Taking Translation as a Career


Are you planning to learn Chinese in Singapore to become a translator some day? Well then, you must know a few things about what makes a good translator. This knowledge will help you decide if translating is the career for you.

1.You are dealing with someone else’s work

The job of a translator is to translate someone else’s work, this is rather obvious. However, what’s not so obvious is that this work entails a lot of moral responsibility. That is, you will have to translate the work just as it is to the furthest extent possible. You must ignore all impulses to make the text better than the original or tinker it in any way for any other reason.

Can you do this? If no, you should look for some other career.

2.Limelight is not for you

Who are your 3 most favorite writers?

We bet you wouldn’t have taken more than a minute to answer the question. Now let’s look at another question…

Who are your 3 most favorite translators?

What happened? You are finding it hard to remember even one name. Well, that’s normal.

Great translators are great because of their invisibility. Are you someone who’s fine with being in the background? Be honest.

3.Knowledge is not everything

Ask any student studying Chinese seriously in Mandarin classes Singapore how important knowledge is for a translator, he’s likely to say it’s everything.

Well, this is a general perception. But in this case, it’s wrong.

No one denies knowledge is important for translation work, but it is far from everything. What’s the worst thing that will happen if you are translating something and come across a word which you don’t know or can’t remember? Well… you would have to get up from your seat, pick a dictionary and look for it.

Is that really so bad? Is not knowing some words so big a handicap to make it impossible for you to become a translator? Of course not. Neither it is a bad thing nor is it a handicap of any sort.

The most important thing for a translator is to recognize and accept what he knows and what he doesn’t know because one can always find information about what one doesn’t know.

4.Knowledge is important

This is not in contradiction with the previous point. See, the previous point simply states that knowledge is not the most important thing for a translator. And this point reiterates what is true: knowledge is important (although it is not the most important thing).

You need to have a certain level of fluency in Chinese before you can think of becoming a translator. You must have a good grounding in Chinese grammar and a fair idea of how natives speak and write this language. No dictionary in the word can teach you this, even less at a glance.

In case you don’t have a substantial understanding of subtleties and nuances of Chinese language, your life as a translator will prove difficult and in all likelihood a short one.

5.You should be good in English

Even if you have mastered Chinese, you are likely to struggle as a translator if you don’t know your English. As a translator, you should be damn good at both the language you are translating and the language you are translating to.

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