Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Translation Myths

Translation myths

We at Language Services Bureau keep hearing a lot of myths surrounding translation from clients as well as would be translators! 

In this month’s blog, we would like to share and elaborate upon some of these very common myths.

·         Translation can be done within a short span of time

·         Anyone who knows 2 languages can translate “both ways”

·         What is the need of proofreading and editing

MYTH # 1 Translation can be done within a short span of time

This is the most common myth about translation. However, it is as far from the truth as possible.  Translation is not just substitution of words! It is about conveying the correct meaning of a source document to the target audience completely and this requires time! The duration required to translate a document   depends upon factors such as:

o   Type of document:

 Documents like birth certificates, death certificates, mark sheets, etc., i.e. general texts take much less time to translate than for Technical documents, Legal documents, medical documents, etc. In short, any domain which requires subject matter expertise needs more time for translation.

o     Comprehension and research:

A translator has to first read through the document and when required, do some research on the content to get a complete overview of the document. Therefore it really does not make sense to expect a 500 page document to be translated in 5 days .. well it takes much more time to read through all those pages .. not to mention the time to understand, research upon the topic if required and then translate it! 

o   Formatting –  

Formatting is usually considered as least important and often not considered as part of translation until the output is shared with the client .. it is only then that it is evident that without a document formatted as per the original, it is quite difficult to make sense of it.. e.g. a bank statement without the tables and alignment will not be of much use!!.  For translation of documents which are scanned images the document needs to be actually recreated. And correspondingly the time estimate increases

o   Proofreading

A second translator normally goes through the translated document to check for completeness, inconsistencies, correctness, numbering, formatting, etc. and if sufficient time is not provided for the same, optimum quality cannot be guaranteed.

 MYTH # 2 Anyone who knows 2 languages can translate “both ways”

Knowing a language and having expertise in it are two different things, the latter requires time, dedication and experience. A person who knows two languages cannot necessarily translate in or from the known language The person needs to be fluent in both languages and should have years of experience in a specific domain too. The flair for languages, understanding a text, correctly re-expressing the message in a different language, patience and ability to do research, etc. are some of the basics to become a good translator.
When it comes to translating into a foreign language, it always makes sense to get the translation done from a native translator, which is the international practice, since it’s hard to know a language as well as a native does.

MYTH # 3 Good quality translation is possible without proofreading and editing

In the language industry, you will come across these terms frequently.  The reason behind their importance is enhancement of translation quality but majority of clients as well as translators are not convinced!  They don’t see the need of proofreading and editing. Proofreaders and editors are language and domain experts who compare, check and correct the document translated by other translator(s) - grammatical, logical, terminological, syntactic, formatting related errors and omissions are thus verified and corrected by them.
A translated document needs to be checked at least twice, once by the translator himself/herself and then by the proofreader. If time and budget permits, proofread document needs to be reviewed again by the editor since to ensure translation quality, this is the internationally followed practice!  

Let’s have a look at the an example to prove the importance of review, since even a seasoned and experienced translator can commit such errors.
Translated sentence:
Supporting the meteorology assembly
Proofread sentence:
Supporting the metrology assembly

The term “metrology” was misspelled as “meteorology”!!!
Ø  In this case, it is clear that an automatic spell-check was not sufficient. Thanks to our proofreader who identified this error! A proofreader is always essential, since they not only look for typos but also check the terminology and semantics.

Myths busted hopefully!! Do let us know if you too have come across some myths about translation or the language industry!

Written By Daya Shetty and edited by Devaki Kunte
May 20, 2017
Language Services Bureau, Pune, India

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