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Translating live speech tips


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I've translated English from Japanese a few times so I have a few tips especially if you want to start doing translating.

It's very important you have a stong understanding of both languages and cultures and spoken language.

Don't focus on accuracy of word by word but by feeling - you can shorten sentences as long as the audience understands the main points.

Try and learn the culture enough to be able to translate a joke that would relate to the audience you're tanslating for.

Don't focus on the words you don't know! Keep it flowing and maybe explain it if you can't find the right word.

If the speaker says I, my etc in their language, don't start saying their or that person's name. It's more natural to say I, my cos the audience knows you're translating for them. If they have a partner they refer to in their speech, you can maybe mention their relationship if the general audience doesn't know.

If you have any questions or want to add your own tips, please do! I only did casual translations at an international church but it was important to be accurate for people who weren't bilingual.

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  • 3 weeks later...

But what if you get lost on a word and he keeps going? You can't just skip it! It will leave a huge hole and the audience will be kind of...lost. What do you do in those circumstances? Like:

"This problem is of great importance because the _____ is affecting the world and we need to recover the _____"

If those two words are missing then...well...

Of course, you need to be a pro to do this, but how do you keep up with that? How do you fix that mistake?

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A wonderful post indeed! It is true that we need to focus a lot more on the culture rather the language itself! Doing such a thing would give a real good feel when a native speaker reads the translated version :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Amazing tips!  I'm sure it's pretty common not to know or not to remember a word, I guess going on and do the best you can is the best you can do.  That's much better than abrupty stoping and saying no word, lol. I'd not worry that much about leaving holes, I think your set of tips are just amazing... it's amazing how many words and meanings can get lost in translation!  So yeah, I agree with you totally when you say a good translator must learn more about the culture of the languages he'll be translating :)

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  • 1 month later...

I do live translations on a daily basis. When you are thinking in both languages, and you have done it enough, your brain takes on the words and translates them as they speak them.

To me, If the person is Speaking English, and I need to translate to Spanish, As the person speaks English, I hear the Spanish word in my head.

I am not sure How I do it, but That is how it works in my case.

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