Even though there are numerous professional translators, sometimes you can’t afford one. And even though there are volunteer translators, sometimes nobody is willing to help. Then you have to resort to trying to translate your document yourself. This guide will show you how to get the best results. We will assume that you are a native English speaker, and you are trying to translate the following paragraph into French (even though you have little experience.)
On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration.The destruction was complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair.
Step 1: Check to see if it has already been translated.
Hey you never know, maybe someone else already took the time to translate it. A quick Google search reveals it has been:
Dans la nuit qui suivit le jour où fut commise cette action cruelle, je fus tiré de mon sommeil par le cri: Au feu! Les rideaux de mon lit étaient en flammes. Toute la maison flambait. Ce ne fut pas sans une grande difficulté que nous échappâmes à l’incendie,—ma femme, un domestique, et moi. La destruction fut complète. Toute ma fortune fut engloutie, et je m’abandonnai dès lors au désespoir.
But let’s pretend you couldn’t find it on Google. You can search a translation database at mymemory.translated.net. Nothing useful was found. Alright, time to resort to machine translation…
Step 2: Prepare the document for machine translation.
- Check to see that the original document has no spelling or grammatical errors. Tests have shown that using “i” instead of “I” can affect results!
- Replace all slang and non-literal terms with common words.
- Split up long sentences into several short sentences.
On the night this cruel deed was done, I was awakened by the sound of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and I escaped from the fire. The destruction was complete. My entire wealth was destroyed, and I became depressed.
Step 3: Plug it into a translator.
I used Google Translate. Unfortunately, there is no way you can check the accuracy without knowing the language yourself. But you can rest assured that the quality will be better than directly translating the original document.
Dans la nuit cet acte cruel a été fait, j’ai été réveillé par le bruit du feu. Les rideaux de mon lit étaient en flammes. Toute la maison était en feu. C’est avec grande difficulté que ma femme, un serviteur, et je me suis échappé de l’incendie. La destruction a été complète. Ma richesse entier a été détruit, et je suis devenue dépressive.