Skip to main content

8 typical mistakes startup EN<>RU translators make

A few days ago I finished teaching the translation block at our Basic Course for startup translators. It was an unexpected turn as somebody else was supposed to do it. But the situation changed a few days before the New Year, so I had to stand in the gap.

While teaching this group and while watching other groups for the past 4 years, I noticed eight common mistakes startup EN<>RU translators make in their translation work:

1. Word for word translation and various calques
2. Punctuation and syntax mistakes
3. Wrong sentence structure (Theme–Rheme relationship)
4. Making unnecessary transformations and forgetting about them when they are necessary
5. Adding things that are absent in the original
6. Skipping parts of original text while translating
7. Not studying the topic of their translation
8. Forgetting to check their work before sending it

I strongly suspect that the above-mentioned mistakes aren't exclusively made by beginning translators in the EN<>RU language pair. If you've noticed other common translation mistakes in your language pairs, please add them in comments! I would appreciate your input.

I think people make those mistakes for the following reasons:
1. Lack of experience. This one is easily solved by practice.
2. Overconfidence and laziness. I think those are the main reasons why translators don't study the topics of their translations and don't proofread their work.
3. Lack of language skills.
In Russia, we have limited ability to immerse ourselves into the culture and life of the countries the languages of which we are studying.
However, now life is different, and students have a lot more resources they can use than previous generations had. We can travel, read books, watch movies, and communicate with friends and colleagues from different countries using Skype, Facebook, and other social networks. So there's actually no excuse for not knowing a foreign language on a professional level if we are planning to earn money by using this language in the daily life.
4. I also see a big difference in progress depending on the motivation. Some people take courses because they think they already know everything, but they need some kind of a certificate to prove it. Those people are the hardest to teach. They are also the ones who don't accept corrections. But those who come with an open mind and with a great desire to study always succeed.

However, teaching is a mutual process. What did I gain from the course?
1. I learned to persevere. Colleagues who choose our CPD courses already have day jobs, so they can only study in their free time. Guess what? I can only teach in my free time, too! So every time I felt too tired to check their home tasks or to hold a webinar I thought about them. It helped me to gather my strength and do my very best. The course participants became my role models and I did everything not to let them down.
2. I improved my language skills. Every time I prepared for webinars I had to foresee the questions that might arise and look for good explanations. As it usually happens, while I was looking for answers I also learned something new.
3. The course finally made me organize all the additional resources and books about various aspects of translation and find some new resources. One of the publications I find extremely helpful for Russian translators and linguists is Misused English Words and Expressions in EU Publications. I will soon include it in my list of useful resources together with some other links.
4. I once again learned to plan my time. Otherwise it would be impossible to prepare for the webinars, check the home tasks + do the ordinary stuff like managing the courses, translating, editing etc. It was a very busy time. I am much better at delegating different things now, and this skill really helped me as well.

So that's what I was doing the first months of 2018 and some lessons I learned. Looking forward to your comments and wishing all my dear readers a great week!


Popular posts from this blog

Translation Forum Russia 2017: my report

A few days ago I came back from Translation Forum Russia which took place in Ufa, Bashkortostan . My daughter Delia went with me because she never visited Ufa before (neither have I) and because of the trip to the Southern Ural mountains we planned to take after the conference with a small group of colleagues. Ufa is not considered one of the primary tourist attractions of Russia, though I am convinced now that it definitely should be. Some pictures of the city (not all of the pictures are mine, some were made by the official photographer of the conference Elena Ekaterininskaya, our company CEO Fedor Kondratovich and some other colleagues): The bee is a symbol of the region as Bashkortostan produces the best honey in Russia. We saw installations shown below in different parts of the city. There were still covered because of the cold weather, but they will be full of blooming flowers as soon as the warm weather comes. The bee as we saw it That's what it

How to Reply To a Negative Feedback About Your Translation

We are humans and we screw up many times! And receiving a negative feedback about your translation work if one of them. As translation professionals, we work daily with people from different cultures and backgrounds. So, it is quite important to keep a level of etiquette while we do our business communication. Whatever your years of experience or your educational background, there are times when daily life affects our business badly. It is how we react to these situations what makes a big difference between professional translation service providers and those who are not. I was lucky enough when I started my translation career back in 2004 to read about the “ A Complaint Is a Gift ” business book and receive my training by a true professional Arabic translator. My colleague taught me the tactics of a professional’s reply to a negative feedback and the book mentions the bright side of receiving a complaint about your work. If the client does not like your work, he can just m

15 interesting facts about the English language

I prepared this list for one of my English classes. And then it dawned on me that I can share it with you, too! So here are 15 facts about the English language that I find very interesting. Hope you do, too ;) Rudyard Kipling was fired as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. His dismissal letter said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language. This isn't a kindergarten for amateur writers." No language has more synonyms than English.