Lesson 54: Leverage the theory covered as a part of your translation degree

Lesson 54: Leverage the theory covered as a part of your translation degree

I know that many readers are translation students or translation graduates. And this post is for you! You’ll be sitting exams soon, and then there’s the dissertation… I thought that you could do with some motivation to carry on. Maybe even those of the readers who graduated a while back will find some useful ideas here.

Now that the introductions are done, here’s the reason for this post: instinctively we know that if we’ve graduated in translation or have a translation-related education we’re offering something more to our clients. But it’s often very difficult to describe this “more” and use it to convince the clients why they should choose us (and pay more). And honestly speaking, sometimes it’s even hard to understand what the whole translation theory has to do with our professional lives. That’s why I decided to share this collection of benefits linked directly with translation modules covered at universities. The headlines below correspond to the modules that I came across when doing my degree and how I talk about them now with my clients.

Translation theory

Understanding different translation theories helps me grasp the variety of approaches to source and target texts. I can also better understand the expectations translation users had throughout the ages and I can identify which broader cultural trends have impact on your text.

Characteristics of non-literary texts

As a translator, I also study the way texts are written and what makes them achieve specific purposes. It means that I not only know which words and phrases are used in legal texts, but I also understand what makes them be legal. This is very important for your texts, because they have to have the same effect on your readers when translated into another language.

Translation tools

Contrary to the popular belief, translators need much more than just pen, paper and dictionary. Studying translation tools makes me better equipped to do the job for you, and as a result, I can translate better, faster and more consistently.

Translation research project

As a part of my degree, I was asked to look at existing translations and compare them with the original text. I found this exercise very helpful because it made me wonder why certain things have been translated this way and not another and I had to find explanations to these problems. It means that whenever you have any questions regarding your project, I’ll be able to tell you why I translated it like that.

Intercultural communication

I was also lucky enough to study the basics of intercultural communication. I know the cultural dimensions and main differences between the cultures I translate. It means that your texts are not only correct from the linguistic point of view, but my translation also covers cultural differences.

Translation process

Of course, I also studied the process of translating, from the first reading, through research, to polishing the final text. It means that I am competent enough to handle your translation because I know what’s involved in producing the final text.

Translation procedures

I am aware of different translation problems and I also have the right tools to solve them. It means that if your text contains words of phrases without direct equivalents in the target language, I will be able to use the correct translation procedure to find the best solution.

I hope you now feel more confident talking about what you learnt as part of your translation degree. Think about your education and see if you can turn it into benefits for your clients.


  1. Biljana , on Apr 5, 2013 at 16:16 Reply

    Great post, Marta! I’ve been looking for a way to make clients realise all of the above, but so far it’s only taken the form of bullet points in my CV, representing modules I’ve taken at university. Will definitely be using your tips to further explain the benefits of working with a qualified translator 😉 Thanks!

  2. Maria Pibernus , on Apr 8, 2013 at 19:16 Reply

    Greetings from Buenos Aires and thanks Martha for your articles and sharing your comments and views! As a translation teacher at a state university here in Argentina, I make strong emphasis specially on translation procedures, target reader, skopos, etc. It’s amazing to see how students improve awareness and quality when they start giving technical labels to what they do in translation merely out of intuition and natural gift.

    Also, when clients can have a grasp of all the ” language operations” we practise on the text, they really start having a different attittude towards our service and give more value to it, and can ideally be more considerat as to deadlines and fees.

    I’ll come back soon with more to share!


    • Marta Stelmaszak , on May 1, 2013 at 16:32 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Maria! It certainly helped me, too 🙂

  3. Natalia , on Apr 9, 2013 at 11:39 Reply

    Dear Marta,
    For more over a half-year I’ve been reading your lessons and can’t help admiring your attitude to you your job as an interprener. It’s a pleasure to get notification letters of new lessons and get involved in the translation industry. As a future translator/interpreter every lesson of you is of the utmost importance for me develop my skills as a translator. Thanks a lot for a new lesson. As usual it’s really helpful.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on May 1, 2013 at 16:31 Reply

      Dear Natalia,

      Thanks a lot for your comment! I’m really glad that you’re enjoying my blog! Good luck 🙂

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