Suggestions on How to Become Established as a Freelance Translator

Paper or Online Dictionaries?

The public still have this image of a translator sitting surrounded by a pile of dictionaries in the various subjects. This is no longer the case, because the Internet has revolutionised translators' work. While many still use some good basic (paper) dictionaries and grammar and spelling guides, most translators now research terminology on the Internet. They may use online dictionaries or, preferably, look for companies' bilingual pages as guides, use the Google search engines in the countries they translate for and make use of sources such as Linguée which provides very useful translations in many different languages, including German.

Often, customers provide translators with past translations or other reference material, expecting them to follow the company's in-house terminology. A good CAT tool is the most useful aid to process all those documents quickly and to find the right terminology in seconds.

If you are someone new to internet terminology research, I would recommend you spend some time learning some time-saving techniques. There are courses on offer (including online, of course!), and CPD webinar providers who specialise in this kind of training.

There are also innumerable online dictionary and glossary links (see my link section for a very short introduction).

Two good ways to find online dictionaries:

  • Type a word in both source and target language into the search window (e.g. selbstständig self-employed). This may find you bilingual source texts or dictionaries that hold the terminology you need.
  • In the language you are looking for, type into the search box the appropriate subject matter, e.g. "tennis", "18th century poetry" or a couple of the terms you are looking for and add "dictionary" or "glossary". If you are very lucky, you may find exactly what you need.