Researching Translation Terms and Online Help

Research Responsibility

No matter what your language pair is, it is not possible to know and understand every word and concept that exists. Regardless of how good or thorough of a translator you are or how much training you have had, it is your responsibility to research and find the translation terms in your target language that are the best equivalents to source language words. Especially when translating in a specialized field, you will need to know where to look when faced with unknown terminology. Translators today are not limited to specialized dictionaries, but also have access to a vast amount of online term databases and the input of their colleagues or other experts in specific fields.

Bilingual Dictionary Options

Most translators have a number of dictionaries. You will likely have monolingual dictionaries in any source and target languages, as well as bilingual dictionaries, and dictionaries within your fields of specialization. Many translation programs will require you to have such books, and to carry these mammoths to and from classes while you are learning your trade. However, only referring to one dictionary may not provide you with the appropriate translation terms for your specific situation. Translators today are also able to take advantage of dictionary programs for their computers, as well as online, which save a lot of physical space, and spare the back when they need to be transported. Dictionaries online and in your computer will often allow you to do a search for translation terms, and give you options related to those terms in a specific field or location--saving you the time of having to search numerous books. The translator workplaces that you join will likely have their own bilingual translation terms glossaries as well. Keep in mind, using physical books or the Internet is a matter of preference for the individual translator, though online dictionaries may provide you with more relevant options based upon the context of your translation, in a more efficient manner.

Colleague Help Online

Many of the translator workplaces that you join will have a forum for members to post on when they need help with a translation. Online dictionaries –  like wordreference.com – also allow translators to create threads when they are unable to find an appropriate source-to-target term, though as it is a free site, you do not have access to the credentials or experience of the translators that provide answers. These posts are not limited to vocabulary--translators often post when they have a phrase or sentence in a source document that they do not understand or are having trouble translating. Other translators are able to reply to the post and make suggestions or provide references and better understanding of translation terms, phrases or concepts. On some sites, like proz.com, translators answer such posts with their suggestions, and if their answer is chosen as the most helpful answer, they earn points that are then able to be seen by potential clients. By presenting translation difficulties to other translators or experts, you are able to find out other people's experiences with similar documents, as well as standard translations in particular fields, or specific to a country or region.

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