However, there are some things that transcend the different translation services that individuals provide – such as online tools. As such, we’ve rounded up five great free online tools that every freelance translator should be using.
The Tomedes Word Count Ratio Tool
The purpose of the Tomedes Word Count Ratio Tool is to let you know roughly how many words your translated document will be. Different languages use different numbers of words to convey the same message. 10,000 words of English, for example, equates to around 11,213 words in Italian, according to Tomedes’ nifty tool. This is particularly useful if you have a presentation, leaflet or other publication to translate, where the amount of space that the copy takes up will directly impact the layout of the translated document.
The Oxford English Dictionary
Every person who provides professional translation services for a living needs a good dictionary to fall back on, and the Oxford English Dictionary is as good as it gets if you’re working with the English language. Not only does it provide comprehensive definitions of every English word that you can imagine (along with a fair few that you’ve probably never even heard of), the Oxford linguists also issue quarterly updates to ensure that your language skills stay current. So if you don’t know your baffies from your bampots, be sure to have this handy online resource to hand as you translate.
Of course, it’s also important to access an equivalent resource in the other language(s) that you use on a daily basis, so that you can be word-perfect at all times in both tongues.
When you’ve been staring at a complex sentence structure for so long that the copy starts to lose all meaning, a second opinion is essential. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Think of Grammarly as a proofreader and editor all in one. It can’t provide transcription and translation services – that’s all on you – but it can highlight grammatical errors and typos, as well as making suggestions as to how you can improve your copy (for example, by eliminating instances of passive voice). It acts as the voice of reason when you’re lost deep in a paragraph from which there seems to be no logical means of escape.
If you’re one of those translators who wonders how to finish a professional translation, due to the continual potential for tweaking a word choice here or a sentence structure there, Grammarly can also be a great way to draw a line under your work before sending it over to the client.
If you want to know how to make a professional translation better, simply avoid machine translation! However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a time and a place for a little computer assisted guidance. Enter Linguee. This handy app covers English, French, German and Spanish. It’s essentially an online dictionary, but one that includes phrases and contextual translations as well as individual words. If you’re working on a technical translation and want to check how other translators have tackled a certain phrase in the past, Linguee is there to help. If your translation agency has landed you with a document that has a little more legal language in it than you’re used to working with, simply tap the phrases into Linguee to see how others have translated them before you. Simple and reassuring, this is a great tool to have to hand for both practical purposes and peace of mind.
The Free Dictionary
Our final free resource is the aptly named Free Dictionary. Whether you want to find the meaning of a word, look it up in a thesaurus or delve into an encyclopedia, The Free Dictionary has your back. It includes access to legal and medical dictionaries too, so no matter how obscure or technical the word that you want to look is, you should be able to find everything you need all in one place.
Translation Resources for Every Freelancer
There are plenty more translation resources out there that can help your professional life to run smoothly, whether you work through a translation company or find your own clients directly. Trial and error can help you to find the perfect balance of tools to suit your individual work flow and be the best translator that you can be.
Ofer Tirosh is CEO of Tomedes – a translation agency providing translation and localization services to business customers around the globe.