Quality translation

Too often translation is thought of as the process of taking the words from one language ( the source language) and finding their equivalents in another (the target language). Unfortunately it’s not that easy; if it were, computers might do a better job than humans. A good translation is much more than a series of word, phrase or even sentence equivalents. But alas, neither is it a question of paraphrasing.

Instead the translator works with ideas, structures, and meanings, and (yes) words, paying close attention to cultural equivalencies and idiomatic expressions. The final copy should be no more and no less than the the source text. Staying true to the text at times requires a great deal of knowledge and creativity. Smooth, readable, accurate: that’s how the final copy should read. If the reader can say, “this sounds like a translation,” then it’s not a very good one.

Unfortunately, being 100% bilingual is not a guarantee of quality translation. It’s a little like saying that a writer can speak his/her language; a prerequisite surely, but not an assurance of the quality of writing. It pays to have quality translation. Indeed, an inaccurate translation, whether it be bad writing or distorted meaning, can reflect poorly on everyone involved.  It’s a subject that bears thinking about…


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