A Good Translator is a Good Researcher

Everybody is a Google researcher today, right?

What time is the movie tomorrow?

What year did Napoleon die?

Is it safe to microwave a burrito wrapped in plastic?

We can find out most of what we want to know instantly. Even on our phones as we bike to work (watch where you're going!).

Translation research is different.


Think of it like this: most people's Google searches are like a trip to the store for groceries (quick, easy, predictable). Translation research is like mushroom hunting in the fall (you have to know where to go, and you have to be willing to dig around once you get there).

For translators, a quality search always starts in the source language. When you run across a term you aren’t sure about, you have to search for it in the source language and read about it until you feel confident that you know exactly what it means. Only then can you look for the equivalent in your target language.

Here are two examples:

Translator 1 is looking for a term (the name of a machine part)

1. He searches an online dictionary and finds a possible translation

2. He googles the translation

3. He gets some Google hits and decides it looks legit

Translator 2 is looking for the same term

1. She searches for the term in the source language

2. She reads about it and looks at images of the machine and the part in Google images

3. Then she searches an online dictionary

4. She runs parallel image searches for all the potential translations

5. One of the translations looks very close to the source term in images

6. She Googles the translation and verifies that the hits match her context

7. She decides it looks legit

Translator 2 is worth a great deal more to the client because she is a good researcher, not just a good linguist.

Want to learn more about online research? Try the Power Searching course from Google (it’s free and self-paced).

Written By: Elizabeth Adams

*Elizabeth is an ATA Certified Russian->English translator and a guest blogger for Paragon Language Services*

Peace of mind is priceless. Call Paragon Language Services at +1 800 -499-0299 for reliable language solutions.

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