Tricky Translations: Don’t Sweat the Tough Stuff

Syllabus translation Montreal Sometimes I hit a hard patch in a translation that can derail the entire project. Over the years, I’ve developed a few tricks to keep things on track, even when I’m stuck in a rut.


Skip the hard parts – Don’t get hung up on one tough paragraph and watch the hours tick by. Like when you’re taking a test, just skip what you don’t know and deal with it at the end. Mentally, you’ll feel much better if the text is 95 percent done, with just that tough 5 percent left to tackle, than if you’ve been stuck on page 2 for six hours.

Take a walk in the park – Take five minutes to walk around the block. If you’ve got more time, go for a stroll through the nearest park. It’ll work wonders for your mind and body. You’re moving—so you’re not physically stuck—and suddenly the mental juices are flowing again.  

Call for help – A fresh perspective can work miracles. Reach out to a fellow translator or even your spouse or best friend. Even if they don’t have the answer, they may see things from a different angle that just might send you down the right path.

Sleep on it – If you can leave the tough bits overnight, do it. Everything looks different after a good night’s sleep. You never know—the answer might come to you in a dream!

How do you tackle tricky translations?

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