Manual More Paragraphs on Translation (Topics in Translation)

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It demands a perfect knowledge of the source as well as the target language, excellent general knowledge and good command of the subject matter of the translation. As well as these requirements, there are texts that are so complex to interpret that they at times cause the translator to make sometimes serious errors. The meaning of sentences is often so linked to the cultural context in which they were created that it is practically impossible to do an equivalent translation capable of maintaining the same meaning as the source text. What should the translator do in these situations?

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Is it better to translate literally so as not to betray the idea of the author of the text, but with the risk of prejudicing the quality of the translation; or is it preferable to find a closer alternative that means something in the target language, even if the translated version changes the idea of the original text slightly? To reach this goal, it is important to translate taking into account those who will be the beneficiaries of the translation; that is, native readers of the target language. Of course, it is also essential that the translator has a good command of their specialism or, in other words, the subject matter of the text.

Obviously we cannot be professionals in all fields and also be translators at the same time; for that reason, if possible, we need the support of different professionals when we translate. We should not forget that in the majority of cases, the client is the best possible professional who can give us all the information we need. Although we must also not forget that the person who asks for the translation and the author of the text are not always the same person.

The translator has to try to go beyond the original words; to reconstruct some meaning in the words that the author sometimes only manages to partially convey. The translator is faced daily with terms or expressions whose translation presents difficulties. Sometimes the difficulty is that we cannot find a correct translation; often we find too many and we do not know which to choose. A source that confirms the accuracy of the translation of the term in question is of great importance. Generally, those who know how to search can find the confirmation they need in previously translated documents or on the Internet.

In other words, the work of a translator involves getting progressively closer to a text that is, in the target language, the most faithful reflection possible of a certain text in the source language. Some words have very clear translations, whereas others require more work and reflection. Personally, when I have to translate a text, I prefer, first of all, to read it in quite a general way to understand the subject matter in question. I can then begin a more detailed analysis of those aspects that could be difficult.


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In other words: terms, sentences and expressions whose meaning or translation is not obvious and which, for that reason, I decide to highlight. Once this more analytical stage is complete, I begin to research the term, particularly if it is something unfamiliar or technical. I use different tools that can be found online such as glossaries, articles, similar texts, previous translations: anything that can give me a clearer idea of how to go about the translation Then I start the first draft of the new text.


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The tools available in Word are very useful. For example, in my case, I highlight in red the words or phrases whose translation are not completely satisfactory. I also underline or use a new line to separate the possible translations of a noun, adjective or verb so that later I can choose the one that seems to work best.

This way, the second time I read the text, I have a way to move forward and improve. I try to translate the whole text so as not to lose the thread of the subject area, trying not to get too bogged down by the details. Once the first draft is finished, I read the text sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, to make it as good as possible from a stylistic point of view, seeking the best solutions so that the translation is as natural as possible for the reader.

During this stage, it is important for me to work with both versions; the original and the translation. Only in the final phase do I put the original to one side, trying to forget it, to be able to carefully revise the translation, putting myself in the place of a reader who does not know the original and who has to understand the text as it is presented. I think this is the best way of guaranteeing that the text is as natural as possible, just like an original text.

So the task of the translator involves transferring concepts from the source language to the target language using the same expressions that a native speaker would use in the same communicative situation.

More Paragraphs On Translation

In any case, when there are references, events, circumstances or simply objects in the source language that do not exist in the target language, fulfilling this principle is impossible. In fact, it is sometimes impossible to translate maintaining a relationship between the words in the source text and those in the target text; that is, replacing one word in the source text with one other word in the target text. In this sense, there are many questions about whether it is better to translate sticking more closely to the source language or to prioritise the target text and thus move further away from the original.

According to the first view, the priority of the translator is to be as faithful as possible to the form of the original text. The translator has to reproduce all the stylistic elements of the original and use the same tone and register. They have to keep all the cultural elements intact and, in some cases, force the target language to adopt the form dictated by the source text. The translator must, above all, try not to betray the language used by the author and, if possible, convey the meaning of the message. On the other hand, according to the second view, it is necessary to prioritise the accuracy of the message to the detriment of style, if necessary.


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To convey the message, the translator has to substitute the cultural elements in the original text with cultural elements that are more well-known to readers of the target language, even if they are not totally equivalent. The most important thing is the meaning of the message that the author aims to transmit. The translator has to convey that message to readers of the target language in a natural way. Fidelity to the language, register and tone used by the author of the original text is secondary. These two views are total opposites, although less radical positions can be found in the middle.

Translation is not an exact science; therefore, every time the translator undertakes a job, they have to firstly identify with the author to understand the message they are aiming to convey, and secondly identify with the potential reader and use language that will allow them to easily understand this message. To carry out their task, the translator has to avoid being too rigid; on the contrary, they have to open their mind, make it more flexible and use their common sense.

So in the case of a law or a technical text, the translator has to stay as closely as possible to the meaning of the original text.

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Literary translation allows them to slightly move away from the exact meaning in order to preserve the style and metre of the original text. There are thus situations in which explanatory notes are necessary; for example, word games words that appear in the original language but not in the target language, or proverbs or typical concepts of the source language and culture that do not have equivalents in the target language.

This text covers the field of translation applied to information, human relations and literature. It is illustrated with examples and quotations. The content of the book covers the following subject areas: translation topics such as examining, assessing, capitalization, emphasis, idiolect, grecolatinisms across languages, the small print, eponyms and howlers; translation theory: differences between good and bad translation, good and bad writing, literary and non-literary texts and translations, cultural and universal factors; translation as a matter of public interest in the European Union and national parliamnents, as well as in museums and art galleries; and critical discussion of recently published books and conference proceedings.

Intransparency can lead to expensive misunderstandings in terms of a contract , for example, resulting in avoidable lawsuits. Legal translation is thus usually done by specialized law translators. Conflicts over the legal impact of a translation can be avoided by indicating that the text is "authentic" i.

Courts only apply authentic texts and do not rely on "convenience" translations in adjudicating rights and duties of litigants. Most legal writing is exact and technical, seeking to precisely define legally binding rights and duties.

Tips for Translators

Thus, precise correspondence of these rights and duties in the source text and in the translation is essential. As well as understanding and precisely translating the legal rights and duties established in the translated text, legal translators must also bear in mind the legal system of the source text ST and the legal system of the target text TT which may differ greatly from each other: Anglo-American common law, Islamic law, or customary tribal law for examples.

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Apart from terminological lacunae lexical gaps , textual conventions in the source language are often culture-dependent and may not correspond to conventions in the target culture see e. Nielsen Linguistic structures that are often found in the source language may have no direct equivalent structures in the target language. The translator therefore has to be guided by certain standards of linguistic, social and cultural equivalence between the language used in the source text ST to produce a text TT in the target language.

Those standards correspond to a variety of different principles defined as different approaches to translation in translation theory. Each of the standards sets a certain priority among the elements of ST to be preserved in TT. For example, following the functional approach, translators try to find target language structures with the same functions as those in the source language thus value the functionality of a text fragment in ST more than, say, the meanings of specific words in ST and the order in which they appear there.