When evaluating a Spanish language translator, several factors come into play. Choosing the right Spanish translator for an English to Spanish project depends on how your organization’s needs and the translator’s abilities mesh. In general, though, you should be on the lookout for a few indicators that you have found someone you can trust.
First, remember that a being a native speaker does not make someone a good Spanish language translator. Native level language skills are important, but they are not enough. Many native speakers do not have enough of an understanding of their own language to think critically about it and make nuanced decisions during the translation process. So, while people may offer their services, if they do
not have experience as translators, tell them you will take a rain check. Then, go find a translator that has experience.
Next, carefully consider the person’s specialty. Of course, general translators exist, and that may be enough for your project. However, the more specialized the content, the more expertise the translator should have in that field in both the source and the target language. Do not be afraid to ask for examples of previous work to see what kinds of decisions they have made about terminology in your field. It takes a long time to build proficiency in highly technical translation. On the other hand, a medical or legal translator could easily handle a general translation. The bottom line is to get to know the translator’s level of expertise in the fields relevant to the content being translated. Qualified translation agency will have translation specialists for specific industries.
Finally, a Spanish translator relies on a translator’s ability to understand style and tone in the original and the target language. This does not mean that they have to be great writers in the original language, but they should have an appreciation and a deep understanding of the way tone and style influence the meaning of a text. This makes a huge difference in areas like marketing, in which subtle changes in meaning can negatively or positively influence the customer.
Overall, a Spanish language translator should love language—reading it, writing it, playing with it, and discovering its limits. Using a language for any reason requires ongoing learning, and translators have to constantly question their assumptions about language itself. This type of natural curiosity and passion for language, along with the technical experience for the job at hand, truly set great translators apart from the rest.
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