Tips from a translator – 5 tools to improve your writing

November 17, 2016

What can you learn from the way translators work and write?

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During a normal day at work, a language professional utilizes many types of tools for translating and editing. Here are some useful web sources, as recommended by translators.

 

1. Which tense should I use and how do I spell a word?

Struggling with English grammar? Help is at hand; Grammarbook is a free-to-use website that covers a lot of information on common grammar rules and punctuation. The service is available at www.grammarbook.com.

The Institute for the Languages of Finland provides help with grammar in Finnish at www.kielitoimistonohjepankki.fi. The site contains a collection of Finnish grammar rules and can help you with spelling, grammar, abbreviations and names – among other things.

 

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2. How efficient are your searching skills?

Learn to use different search operators with your search words to get precise results.

 

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The minus sign (-word) excludes the word from your results; quotation marks (“word”) returns results containing the words in the specified order; the asterisk (*) replaces a missing word; and two full stops (..) separate numbers and help you find results between these digits.

 

3. Looking for the right word?

The internet is full of free dictionaries. Unfortunately, not all of them are reliable or easy to use.

 

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Bilingual dictionaries usually cover fewer words than monolingual dictionaries. Merriam-Webster is a traditional dictionary of American English and is one of the most widely used ones on the internet: www.merriam-webster.com. Another reliable, well-established web dictionary is the Oxford Dictionary at www.oxforddictionaries.com. Duden will help you with German vocabulary: www.duden.de.

In Finnish, some excellent dictionaries are Kielitoimiston sanakirja (www.kotus.fi/sanakirjat/kielitoimiston_sanakirja) and the term bank TEPA (www.tsk.fi/tepa) which is managed by The Finnish Terminology Centre TSK and covers speciality fields such as technology, industry and transportation.

 

4. Is it on, in or at?

Sometimes a dictionary is not enough.

 

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Even a professional can sometimes forget the right article, preposition or context-specific word. In such cases, it’s easy to search by context. Linguee is a search tool which lets you search bilingual versions of texts written by European institutions. This way you can see how translators in the EU use the word you’re looking for. The service can be found at www.linguee.com.

 

5. How can you develop your language skills?

Any language professional has known since they started their studies that you can never stop learning a language. Languages are dynamic and change over time.

Sometimes the best methods for learning a language are simple.

Watch your favourite TV show without subtitles, read interesting books in a foreign language or listen to audio books, podcasts and radio programmes. Find an environment in which you are able to use your language skills. Travel, get out of the digital environment. Find out if anybody you know speaks a foreign language. Encourage your colleagues to chat in English during their breaks once a week.

The world is your oyster!

 

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Miia Virtanen

Miia is in charge of Lingo’s business and steering it towards international waters.

Translator, M.A., most senior quality controller

Lingo Languages Oy
ketterä porilainen luotettava multilingual
Twitter: @lingotranslates
Facebook: LingoLanguages

 

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