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  • Thea Marazzita

How to Find a Translator for Your Translation Project


Hi guys!

It’s been a while since I last posted. Sorry about that. To make up for it – and to celebrate International Translation Day (Sept. 30th) -, I am going to share a short anecdote, that might be helpful if you are looking for a translator.

About two weeks ago, I went to a shop that sells printers and accessories, to print a document from my phone, and while I was talking to the owner I let out that I am a translator. He immediately asked me to translate his shop website into English.

I politely declined.

I bet you are thinking “what is wrong with you?!”. To let you better understand my reasons to decline, I will share with you the explanation I gave him, plus some considerations that you might find interesting:

- Professional translators always translate FROM a foreign language TO their mother tongue, and EVEN if they happen to be bilingual, they will probably be more proficient in one of the two languages they speak. This is because researchers say that the best way to acquire language skills is through real life experiences, and it is very unlikely that you get to experience the same exact things in both languages. You will find an interesting article on language learning and acquisition here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/can-we-learn-second-language-we-learned-our-first

- This leads us to the fact that being bilingual is great, but it is not sufficient to be a good translator, unless you had proper training (there are specific university courses for translators). It might sound strange, but even then, you won’t be able to translate EVERYTHING: you can efficiently translate only those texts that belong to your fields of expertise - fields of which you know proper terminology in both the language you are translating from (source language) and your native language (target language or the language you are translating into).

So, getting back to the shop owner I met, he would have to look for an Italian to English translator (native English), and I mean a trained one (not just a bilingual person he meets while taking a walk). Plus, this translator should specialize in the field of printers = know proper terminology in both Italian and English.

Why did I decline, then? I am a professional translator (BA in translation), and I have experience in the field of 3D printers. I declined because I am a native Italian translator, and even though my English is good enough to write a little article like this one and hope that my English-speaking audience can read it without laughing (too hard :D), I do not own the skills required to provide him with a high quality translation in English.

But what do I mean by “high quality”? I mean a translation that doesn’t sound like a translation: a text that if read by a native English speaker (in this case) won’t make them laugh. A translation that sounds perfectly natural to my target audience, as if it were written from scratch. A translation that is NOT like this one: https://www.facebook.com/latraduzionedim/posts/981606282022126?hc_location=ufi - an Italian leaflet for an international music event that was very poorly translated into English. I think it is enough to say that “piano” (the music instrument – “piano” or “pianoforte” in Italian) was translated like “plan”, because “piano” in Italian might mean both “plan” and “pianoforte”, but the translator probably didn’t know that “plan” in English doesn’t mean pianoforte, and that English people call a pianoforte just “piano”.

Long story short, if you need to translate something (even more if that “something” is meant to bring you new potential customers), please do not just assign this task to anyone: look for a translator who is native in your target language, who was trained to be a translator (BA or other courses), and who specializes in the field you work.

Where to find a good translator? There are many professional online platforms for this: ProZ.com and TM Town are probably the best ones.

In the next article, I am going to share some more suggestions to help you handle your translation project in the most effective way (yes, finding a good translator is a good start, but there are other factors in play that can guarantee you excellent results… or very poor ones), and I will give you an idea of average translation rates.

So, Christmas is coming – I know, I am shocked myself: this morning I received Yves Rocher new catalogue for Christmas! Are you ready? Is your copy/content properly translated and ready to bring you customers? No? Well, don’t wait until it becomes urgent! [Spoiler: urgent translations are usually charged more.]

What are you waiting for? Go and look for your translator!

Good luck 😊

Thea Marazzita


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