We often get a translation on a topic that we don’t know in detail. What should we do? We have a few possibilities:
If we find the terminology and content of the document(s) to be too complex and the amount of text involved would require research on our part that would take too much time and energy, I think that the most professional approach is to decline the translation of that text and providing the relevant explanations. We don’t have to be afraid that a specific source of work will shut off simply because we don’t accept a job.
On the other hand, if we think that we can handle the text because the terminology is not so specific or extensive, I suggest doing a proper job of researching. I know full well that the easy way out is depending on a bilingual dictionary, but we can’t forget that these dictionaries are only an aid—a door that we open when we have no idea where we are. We don’t have to trust in everything a bilingual dictionary tells us; we always have to look into things a bit more.
I recommend skimming the text to pick up on complex vocabulary and, when dealing with a document with a common format, such as a contract, find examples of other similar documents on the Internet. Likewise, once I am immersed in translating, I really find it useful to read each sentence carefully and, before taking a chance on a spur-of-the-moment translation, have the best idea possible of what those oh-so-difficult terms actually mean.
When the translation is done, it is essential to look it over at least once. We have to make sure that the sentences make sense within the context of the paragraph and that, in the same way, the paragraphs flow together so that the document is as natural as possible.
Lastly, it’s never out of line to ask a friend or acquaintance who is more of an expert on the subject. This, too, is a part of the research process and is useful for improving our work dynamically.