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Answering Kudoz Questions 101

Mis à jour : 18 juil. 2019

It seems like some translators need kudoZ points as if they were air. They are so desperate to earn them that they forget the essence of a good answer.

When a colleague posts a kudoZ question, what they are really asking is help. Terminology help. Terminology is actually a subject I studied at school, and I loved it. I love to find the right translation of a term and build a glossary. The class was only a semester long, but it provided me with all the fundamental information, which I use for my own term searches on a daily basis.

My Answering KudoZ Questions 101 virtual class will not cover all aspects of terminology. If this subject interests you, I suggest you to take a look at the website In My Own Terms. What I want to point out in this blog post is the etiquette, the common sense that is clearly lacking in many translators when they post an answer.

So arm yourself with patience, don’t think that you have to be the first to answer, take your time, and follow these steps:

Step 1 – Consider the context

Look at the context! This is the first thing to do. From the context you understand what keywords to use when you’re researching. Context is everything.

Step 2 ‒ Rely on existing terminology databases

Why wasting time on research when someone else could have already done the job before? Don’t give for granted the fact that the translator who posted the question has checked if the term has been already entered on a terminology database. If they did check, they might not rely on the same sources than you ‒ especially if they are translating in a completely new field for them but in your care it’s your specialization field. If the term does exist on a terminology database, and the source is reliable, then post an answer along with the link. If you don’t find anything:

Step 3 ‒ Begin your own research

Be sure to fully understand what is the true meaning of the term (concept). Most of the time this means consulting monolingual sources (i.e. find the definition of the term in its original language). Only when you have a complete understanding of the concept hidden behind the term, start looking for its equivalent in the target language. If your research leads to good results:

Step 4 ‒ Provide an exhaustive answer

Do you see all those blank fields? There’s a reason why they are there ‒ use them. In fact, except for the Definition, make sure to fill them all in. The most important of them is Web references. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have or how great you are as a translator. The person who posted the question should use your answer without:

  • Having to check if you’re right

  • Having to choose among 2, 3, 4 or 5 options!

So take a deep breath and:

  • Provide at least two reliable references ‒ this is the minimum acceptable. I know, there’s room only for two, but after you have submitted your answer you can add as many notes as you want. I usually use this feature to provide more references.

  • Suggest only one translation. Find the right one, and if you’re not 100% sure if using one synonym or another, write down your doubts in the Explanation section.

Step 5 ‒ Double check your answer (spelling) and hit the Submit answer button.

Now you can go back to whatever you were doing. And yes, it takes time to write a good answer. In case you’re the one who posted the kudoz question I invite you to evaluate every single answer yourself and remember that every answer needs references + context. This is fundamental. I use the term search quite often and there’re nothing worse than stumble upon an incomplete answer and literally wasting time to check if it’s reliable. Did this ever happen to you?

Something to add to this virtual class? Let me know in the comment section below.



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