This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
You are in: Home > General & Business English
Your comments
Talk about English

Listen online       Download mp3 (5.8 MB)       Download script (55 k)

This is an archive programme. For information about the latest programme go here >> [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Translation Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Your comments:
Are you a translator? What do you enjoy most about this job and what do you find most difficult? In your view, what skills does a good translator need to have?

This topic is now closed. Thank you for your messages.

Maria, The Netherlands
Hello, I'm also studying translation and especially English. I like this language very much and that is mainly the reason to study this language. I learn a lot about Great Britain and its culture. This is necessary to give a good translation. You must know a lot about the people who are about to read your translations. But it is also the most difficult part of translation. I hope to learn the language better by joining this programme.

Özgür, Turkey
Hi, I'm not a professional translator. But, I try to make some translation. For example, once I helped my friend to translate a medical article into Turkish. I sometimes try to translate some English stories into Turkish. It's very enjoyable because helping is very good and it's very good to see that I develop my English. But it's very difficult because of some vocabulary or field knowledge obstacles. So, a good translator needs to have a sufficient vocabulary and, if necessary, field knowledge. I didn't know much about medicine and it took 3 hours to finish the translation of one page. :) :) :) One smile for each hour.

Thuy, Vietnam
Hi everybody, I'm not a translator. I am very interested in translate because I want to translate what I have read and listened for my friend. I think the most important thing for a good translator is expressions and some basic knowledge about the sector that you have translated. But i'm very bad at translation so I hope transltors could help me and thanks!

Bibiana, Colombia
I'm studying translation. I realize that this is a very interesting and wonderful profession, because I'm in constant learning about languages, techniques to translate, cultures, etc, so I enjoy all about this job. Skills? a good translator needs researcher nature, desire for learning and love for the translation.

Gerlinde, Germany
I am no translator. I learn English just for fun. But as everybody I am confronted with translations every now and then, for example when I read novels from English speaking authors translated in my mother tongue. In this case - I fear- I don’t notice whether a translation is good or not.But there is another field where I am really often appalled by the quality of translations. I think of operating manuals or instructions for use for technical devices. If you buy a product from abroad you sometimes have so incomprehensible instructions for use that – even as a native speaker – you can’t understand your own native language and you have to do hard language work to guess what the translator probably wanted to say.

Jane, China
I'm not a translator, but I'm interested in this occupation. After listened to this programme, I have a question: do transltors have to obtain certain professional knowledge? I hope BBC LE team or transltors around the world could reply to me and thanks a lot.

Javier, Spain
I'm not a translator, nevertheless I agree with Yousef although I suppose it must be very difficult to keep not only the meaning but the rhythm and real feelings of poetry, since you can make use of dictionaries or manuals or technical texts or any others in most cases but not for translating the innermost feelings which in many ocassions are almost incomprehensible.

Ismail, Turkey
Yes, I hope I will. The most important thing about translation is to have a good vocabulary. Also you should have at least some knowledge about cultures of people whose language you translate, otherwise you may quote expressions or idioms to another language in a wrong way.

Abdela, Ethiopia
Actually, I enjoy the fruits of this tiresome task when you succesfully complete it in desired meaning and manner. The most difficult translation is when you translating literature texts especially poems, much desired meaning is lost through translation. A good translator should use types of translating methods such as free translation, semantic translator, pragmatic translation and so on. Plus natural talents.

Kan, Taiwan
Language barriers keep people from fully understanding other culture and misunderstanding occures. Proper translation does help people understand different culture better. However, terms from different culture bothers me the most. And good translation takes time.

Carolina, Belgium
I am studying to become a translator, and the thing I enjoy most about translating, is the feeling that you are able to connect different cultures or, if you like, different parts of the world. What I find most difficult is the learning of the languages you have chosen to work in, because this is a lifetime job. You have to keep in touch with both the language and the culture to remain or to become a good translator.This has also been an answer to the third question, although I would like to add that one must be very interested in what one does, to be able to maintain or obtain the required knowledge.

Evangelina, Argentina
I am an English-Spanish translator and what I find most enjoyable about my career is that you are constantly investigating and learning new things. The most challenging aspect is trying to use accurate technical terms in Spanish instead of unnecessary borrowings, especially when target readers are more familiar with the English terms than with the Spanish equivalents. As regards the necessary skills, I think that intellectual curiosity, a lot of reading and passion for words are paramount.

Sam, UK
I am working as translator in England, I hope this is gonna be my year and complete studes.

Lina M., Colombia
Hi everyone!!! A good translator should know very well the cultures, the idioms, becouse it is not just translating word-for-word, it is sometimes translating one culture into another in some way.

Naheed, Pakistan
I'm not a translator myself but would wish to be one in the future. A good translator should have a better understanding of the language he is translating. Things that count most are vocabulary and the word order as translating from one language into the other is a bit tricky thing. Naheed

Kendra, China
I am not a professional translator, but I do really a lot of translation during the work. I think it is very normal that when you are at work and need to transform some info to your boss, clients, colleagues, etc. In that case, I think the most enjoyable about translation is that you realize your value by help others to understand. The most difficult part when you are doing translation, for me, it is myself. I mean sometimes you just have a really tough stuff in hand, and you think you will never make that, which make yourself become upset, lack of patience, even irritate sometimes.I think the three targets for people to translate is faithful, completed and elegant.

Chiaki, Japan
Understand culture. Understand language as a component of social system. For example, how you talk matters more than what you say in Japanese. If you translate every sentence into Japanese, it sounds too much. A reader would think the speaker is very talkative or being excited.

Nima, Iran
Hi everybody. I think the most important thing in poems translation is you should reach to layers beneath the words and find how the poet was feeling as he was writing it. You'd better read his biogrophy too. In some cases you should put yourself instead him too. Don't forget this (the English language always is changing) and the expression they used in the past has a different meaning now so be aware as you are translating old poems. I hope my comments would be useful for all you young translator (and the older one too).

Belgacem, Algeria
A good translator need to know the meaning of words one by one and this words in the text and for who to translate.

Tra My, Vietnam
I am not a translator but I think everybody who has been studying foreign languages has done translation exercises. These are not easy exercises. In my opinion, the translator should have wide knowledge in all fields and English for specific purposes (ESP). For example, if you would like to have a close translation in Information Technology, you will know more about computer and programming language. Nowadays, the demand for translators who are good at Chinese, Japanese, and Korean has increased in Vietnam. Many people have studied these languages besides English.

Ehsernta, Hong Kong
I really want to get jobs that are related to languages when I grow up. I think that we shouldn't think of two languages at a time. We should just get the idea and think the idea in the language you are translating and that would be the most perfect. A good translator, in my opinion, of course, have to be really fluent in both languages, the language that you are translating and the language you are translating into. And also, the translator should be always reading literature in these languages, just to be much more familiar with the language and the cultures of that language and country. And also keep an eye on those phrases and idioms, which make your translation much condensed.

Yinan Wang, Japan
I am not a translator. But, I am thinking of trying to translate something into Chinese. So that this topic is very useful to me.Thank you very much.

Moeoowau, Myanmar
The most diffuilt thing for me is to translate the feeling of person. Sometimes they said very vague words. I tried to translate my best but I'm not sure my translation reach the same degree that they wanted to describe. I enjoy this job when everything goes well after the translation. One of the skill a good translator need to have is to forget himself/herself when translating time ie, He must feel like the one who speaks or write the text.

Luis Steve, Mexico
No I'm not a translator, but someday I want to have the ability and the proper training to be one, well as you said in this program and I've been thinking in this way for almost 10 years the most important skill is the ability to think in one language at the time, and next is the proper training and read a lot in both languages, and the rest is enjoy what you do, and enjoy what I do is what I started to do and it feels great. Great program as always, every day I learn something new in this site. Best wishes.

Jacky, Hong Kong
I am now working as a translator in Taiwan. I enjoy my work here because I learn a lot every day. I believe the formidable challenge that every translator faces is that a translator can never be equally competent in the source language and the target language. In my opinion, a translator should be inqusitive and at least bilingual and bicultural. A good translator should also be capable of meeting tight deadlines and coping with enormous pressure.

Yousef, Iran
A good translator should first and foremost be well aware of diffrent expresions between languages. He should consider to keep the meaning of the text in traslation and try to translate the text as comprehensible as possible to the readers. To this end he must be very creative in changing the language structures and finding new undestandable words as well.With this introduction he should avoid translating word by word!

Sergio, Mexico
Yes I'm. I enjoy to translate and what I find most difficult is to translate. The skills that a good translator need to have is to be intelligent.

Michel, Belgium
Be alert. Cultivate humility. Favour the common sense. And never forget this: Success has a simple formula: do your best and people may like it.