When a professional translator sits down to work, he or she does not stop and think about the strategies to be employed for a particular translation work. It comes intuitively. But ask a translator to make a list of the translation techniques they use and they might be hard pressed to describe these to an outsider. Nevertheless we will pinpoint these techniques to help readers interested in translation to learn more about the many nuances of this fascinating work that well deserves public awareness and attention.
A translator considers many elements before the actual translation is done. There could be discrepancies in vocabulary and grammar in both languages that means literal translation is not possible. That is why these translation techniques are used to come up with an accurate translation.
Broadly, there are two main translation types: direct and oblique, with sub-types under each one. It should be noted that translation techniques are different from translation methods. Translation methods are applied to the entire document. Translation technique on the other hand can vary within the same document, based on the particular verbal elements that require translation.
Direct translation techniques are utilized when the conceptual and structural elements of the source language (SL) are directly transferable into the target language (TL). The techniques used for direct translation are borrowing, calque and literal translation.
Direct translation, per se, means the literal word-for-word translation of written text, which may or may not convey the actual message of the original document. However, when it applies to translation, literal translation indicates technical translation of legal, technological, technical and scientific texts.
When the conceptual or structural elements of the source language cannot be directly translated into the target language without changing its stylistic and grammatical elements and the meaning, oblique translation techniques are used. Here, the translator exerts a tighter and stricter control over their translation. This category has five types:
Have you ever tried to use an online translator and did not understand the resultant translation? If this has happened to you, you will understand the difficult task of coming up with a fully comprehensible and accurate translation in the language that you understand and the fact that human translators are needed to produce quality translations.
Professional translators employ many elements, skills, knowledge and techniques that are available and required in their profession. One of the main things is the deep understanding of the source and target languages. Many of the techniques discussed here will be applied in different parts of the document. Literal translation may still need a bit of tweaking to make it sound better in the translated language; verbs may be repositioned and idioms may have to be changed or replaced to fit the culture of the reader. Translators are very sensitive to cultural issues and exercise sound judgment to change phrases, terms and sentences that might be offensive to other cultures.
When you require accurate translation, do not rely on machines, as they are not capable of producing accurate translations. Translation work is a combination of many elements. The work process is difficult and long, and must conform to various rules, which are indigenous to most languages. For example, English to Spanish translation might not need a lot of changes to be implemented although it cannot be said that it is still easy, but consider translation from English to Arabic, English to Hindi, English to Afrikaans or English to Chinese and vice versa. Being a good translator is not an inherent skill; it requires long periods of study and on-the-job experience.
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