Thai – English Translation: 5 secrets you need to know
I have been translating between Thai and English for my entire professional career and there are many little secrets I have picked up along the way. Below is a quick list of five things that you need to know when translating from English to Thai or from Thai to English. For support, you can always contact our Bangkok translation service where our content writers are experts in both English and Thai.
Before getting started, make sure you have everything prepared in advance. These days a good internet connection is enough, but a Thai-English dictionary or a book of idioms will be necessary if you are working offline. While I am translating I usually use the same websites, which I have bookmarked: Oxford, Thai2English, and Word Hippo. I need to work without distraction, so before starting I make sure that all my social media is closed and I put my phone in flight mode to ensure I can fully concentrate.
2. Read First.
Before starting to translate anything, I always read it through a couple of times so that I have a clear idea of the tone and style that the original writer is going for. Tone and style are two often overlooked areas of translating, and they can be hard to maintain; however, it is essential to mimic the feel of the original as much as possible in order to accurately convey its message. I am fortunate to have had experience working with many types of texts over the years, so I am able to accurately re-create academic, marketing, sales or professional styles, but this is something that many new translators struggle with.
3. Know Your Idioms & Figurative Language
While the Thai language is rich in idiom, the English language overflows with figurative language, with as much as 50% of a native speaker’s writing being idiomatic. This presents a problem for translators as it is necessary to fully understand an idiom before it can be properly translated. I have a pretty good grasp of English, so most of the time I am ok; but I occasionally need to check with one of my native-English colleagues just to make sure. Celeb @Thai Rath regularly translates idioms, and their site is a good place to start.
4. Focus on the meaning
A common mistake made by new translators is attempting to translate every word. Both Thai and English (especially English!) have many words which don’t really add anything to the meaning of a sentence and can be removed. The secret is to ensure that you maintain the original meaning, while presenting the ideas in the clearest possible way.
5. After Translating
One of the keys to good translation is to spend time re-reading your work. Go over what you have written a couple of times, at least, to make sure you are happy with the final product and make any edits necessary. I usually ask one of my English colleagues to take a look for me, too, just to make sure that everything makes sense.
That’s all for now. I hope these tips have been useful to you and that your translations are flawless!
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