Lingo Woman's useful resources for freelance translators #1: Linguee

I came across a great online resource recently and wanted to share it with those of you who were not already aware of it. Linguee is an online translation tool which trawls through millions of bilingual texts across the web and offers contextual translations of the term or phrase you are searching for.

It's a fantastic tool and something that can be of great use to professional translators in their research.

But why it is so good?

Well, not only does it search through a huge range of bilingual resources to produce your search results, but you get to see your term or phrase in a variety of contexts ('context' being the operative word here). Any translator will know that context is vital.

It is important to emphasise that Linguee is a 'web crawler' as opposed to an automatic translator. Since about 95% of translated sites on the internet are machine translated, the people over at Linguee make a conscious effort to weed out the bad translations and not to use them as part of the Linguee service. According to their website,

'texts are evaluated by a machine-learning algorithm which filters out the high quality translations for display.'

It only deals with translations carried out by human translators and the majority of texts are from the United Nations and the European Parliament, i.e. texts that have been professionally translated.

The site is very easy to use. Your search results are shown in the form of two columns, with the source on the left and the target on the right. Another nice feature is that it also states the source of the translation and provides a link to the website from which it was taken.

As with any free resource, you must be aware that for every great translation, there will also be some that  are not so great. It is up to you to use your judgement to decide whether or not you think the translation is suitable. Obviously a reputable bilingual dictionary should be your first port of call. But it is certainly a great tool for generating ideas as to how to translate some of the more unusual terms you may come across and which may not necessarily be found in your dictionary.

The language pairs available at present are English-German, English-Spanish, English-French, English-Portuguese, but plans are underway to add further language combinations, including Chinese and Japanese.

Yours truly,
Lingo Woman

CPD. What's that then?

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It is an investment in you. A systematic way of keeping your professional knowledge and skills up to date, increasing your expertise, planning your career development and putting learning into practice throughout your working life.

It is the hallmark of a professional.

As a professional translator, it is your responsibility to ensure that CPD is part of your everyday working life. Indeed, as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, I am expected to set my own professional objectives at the start of each year and evaluate these at the end of the year. A conscious focus on building your career development will help you to become a better translator. In practical terms, it will accelerate your career development, strengthen your professional credibility and increase your appeal to clients. As far as personal benefits are concerned, it will boost your confidence, increase your job satisfaction and make your work life more interesting. What's more, it's not just you who will benefit from your commitment to being and staying professional, but your clients will benefit too!

So how do you keep track of CPD?

You must keep a regular record of any CPD activities you carry out. This will give you a clear picture of the achievements and progress you have made and will demonstrate your skills in a concrete manner.

As a mark of my professional commitment and dedication to learning I follow the Institute of Linguists' CPD scheme. I use the form provided by the IoL to record all activities I wish to contribute towards my CPD. There are, of course, many other forms and schemes available.

It is important to remember, however, that it's not just about mindlessly picking training courses, but targeting professional development according to your personal needs as a linguist and to the requirements of your job as a translator.

So what exactly constitutes CPD for translators?

The IoL focuses mainly on the following objectives: 

  • Language
  • Culture
  • Business and IT skills
  • Methodology
  • Subject matter

Many different activities can qualify as CPD, but it is important to make sure you acquire relevant knowledge and that you put what you have learnt into practice in order to achieve your goals. Here are some examples of what may constitute CPD for a translator:

  • Attending a language course
  • Reading foreign language newspapers or literature, listening to foreign language radio or TV programmes
  • Reading publications related to your specialism or carrying out training in your specialist subject areas
  • Attending relevant conferences, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, etc.
  • Learning to use new software packages
  • Developing administrative or office management skills
  • Travelling overseas
  • Developing translation skills
  • Networking
  • Terminology management

So what are you waiting for?

Take ownership of your career and start your CPD record now!

Yours truly,
Lingo Woman