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  • Writer's pictureHernán J. Droguett

10 traits of a great translator



Translation is the bridge that connects different cultures and languages, enabling effective communication in an increasingly globalized world. A good translator possesses a unique set of skills and qualities that go beyond fluency in multiple languages. Here are the key attributes that make a translator excel in their craft:

  1. Proficiency in multiple languages: A good translator is fluent in both the source and target languages, understanding the nuances of grammar, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions.

  2. Cultural awareness: Language is intertwined with culture, and a skilled translator understands the cultural context of both the source and target languages. This awareness helps ensure that the translation is culturally sensitive and appropriate.

  3. Attention to detail: Translators must be meticulous in their work, ensuring that every word and phrase is accurately rendered in the target language.

  4. Research skills: Translators often encounter unfamiliar terms or concepts. Effective research skills are crucial for accurate and contextually relevant translations.

  5. Adaptability: Language is dynamic, and a good translator stays updated with evolving language trends and new vocabulary.

  6. Empathy: Understanding the emotions and intentions behind the source text is vital. A good translator can convey these elements faithfully in the target language.

  7. Domain knowledge: Specialized fields like legal, medical, or technical translation demand subject-specific expertise to ensure precision.

  8. Time management: Meeting deadlines while maintaining translation quality is a crucial skill for a professional translator.

  9. Communication skills: Translators need to communicate effectively with clients to clarify doubts and ensure a shared understanding of project requirements.

  10. Ethics and confidentiality: A good translator upholds ethical standards, respecting client confidentiality and maintaining integrity in their work.

In summary, a good translator is not merely a linguistic expert but also a cultural mediator, researcher, and empathetic communicator. These qualities, combined with linguistic prowess, ensure that the translation effectively conveys the intended message while respecting the nuances of both language and culture.


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