Improve your vocabulary

Disposing of a vast active vocabulary is a great advantage for a translator, along with proficient knowledge in punctuation, grammar, and style. Even though your projects are frequently linked to a strict glossary, there are many instances throughout a text where you need to come up with that “ideal” word. An extensive vocabulary will empower you to jazz-up your translation and hone your style.
Therefore training your vocabulary is essential to improve the quality of your target text. And this can easily be integrated into your daily routine as a warm-up before you tackle your translation.

Train your Vocabulary – every day

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6 Ways on How to Improve your Vocabulary


1. Read every day in your target language and diversify

It might sound obvious, but many of us translators live in the area of our source language and need to make an extra effort to keep up with our mother tongue. Try to read a novel that was originally written in your writing language – chose between contemporary material and classic literature. This way you will get a feel of how the language has changed/is changing. Diversify your topics to include natural science, classics literature, best sellers, politics, history, philosophy or any other subject matter you might enjoy. Keep up to date with online newspaper & magazine articles and entertain your hobbies with reading material in your writing and editing language.

2. Use a Dictionary/Translation App

Keep a thesaurus handy and look up words that you don’t understand. As you write, use a dictionary app if you find yourself using a word too frequently, or if you are looking for a word that could convey the meaning more poignantly. This will train you to better express yourself.

3. Word Game: Find a Synonym

Take a random text and choose 3 nouns, 3 verbs and 3 adjectives – then brainstorm as many synonyms as you possibly can. At the end use a thesaurus and see if you forgot any. You could keep a log of this exercise and review it once a week – to consolidate the knowledge. This is an excellent exercise before starting work in the morning: it gets you focused, you increase your vocabulary and (most likely) get motivated for the task ahead.

4. Do your own Writing and Editing

If you don’t already write, engage in some creative writing of your own. After that, put some time aside for the editing of the content. This is a great way to detect overused words and nondescript terms. It will help to improve and develop your style. When changing words, remember that a more complicated sounding word is not necessarily a better one.

5. The advantages of a Journal

Why not plotting down your thoughts and learning points in a Journal. Subsequently, you will be able to review them in chronological order. A perfect way to see how your vocabulary and writing style is evolving. Furthermore, it will be a treasured memory in the years to come. In your daily or weekly entry, try to integrate new or unusual words you’ve come across recently.

6. Engage with new words in varied ways

It is believed that 10 and 20 repetitions of a word are necessary to become ingrained in your active vocabulary. To settle the word in your mind or memory, make the conscious effort to incorporate it in your conversation; force yourself to include it in a written message or any other way.

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