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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!


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