What Makes a Good Translation?


There’s in fact no absolute reply as to what makes a “good” or “unhealthy” translation. In some sense, a very good translation is one that may be performed to the accessible finances while fulfilling its objective.

Nonetheless, there are events when textual content high quality is the prevailing issue: a nicely written, readily comprehensible textual content will save your colleagues time and go away your shoppers and enterprise companions with a constructive impression. Listed below are some issues that I counsel searching for when evaluating the standard of a textual content that has been translated into English. They’re the forms of standards {that a} good translator ought to be contemplating when translating your textual content, and spotlight a number of the issues steadily encountered in mediocre translations. A few of these factors will in fact apply extra typically to translations between varied languages:

– Does the interpretation overuse formal or scientific-sounding vocabulary? The phrases that in English sound overly scientific might usually be direct translations of phrases in different languages which might be plainer sounding. For instance, is the phrase “anomaly” used when “fault” would sound extra pure? Does the interpretation point out a “pulmonary illness” when “lung illness” would sound extra pure to a common viewers? These are traditional signs of a translation from a language akin to French or Spanish, the place the ‘Latinate’ phrase is a naturally derived, normal-sounding phrase in these languages, however in English turns into a scientific time period appropriate just for extremely specialist audiences.

– Does the interpretation use phrases which might be comprehensible, however not fairly ‘le mot juste’? Does the textual content speak about “social insertion” when “social integration” would sound extra pure? Does it speak about “eventual issues” as a substitute of “potential points”? Or an individual’s “administrative state of affairs” when “administrative standing” would extra normal?

– Are adjectives or descriptive phrases used the place English would extra naturally use a compound? For instance, English permits a phrase akin to “remotely-accessible gadget”, whereas different languages might have to make use of a phrase that actually means “gadget that’s accessible remotely” or “gadget that enables distant entry”.

– Equally, are phrases with “of” or “for” over-used the place English would use a compound. Over-use of phrases akin to “technique of/for gross sales” somewhat than “gross sales technique” are traditional indicators of a translation from varied languages.

– Are determiners (“the”, “a”, “your”…) used as they might be in idiomatic English? Phrases akin to “noticed an elevated productiveness” somewhat than merely “noticed elevated productiveness” counsel an excessively literal translation. Extra subtly, a phrase akin to “the phrases and the situations”, “the cities and the cities” somewhat than “the phrases and situations”, “the cities and cities” suggests a translation from a which does not normally permit two nouns to share the identical phrase for “the” (akin to French), whereas repeating the phrase “the” is unnatural in English.

– Does the interpretation use a story fashion and rhetoric that sounds pure in English? We have all seen French museum indicators telling us, for instance, that “the king will die in 1483”. Extra refined indicators of a translation embody the over-use rhetorical questions (which, for instance, seem extra widespread in Spanish than English, the place they will make your textual content sound overly infantile). In a translation into English, choices should even be made about, say, using contractions (“do not”, “cannot” vs “don’t”, “can not”) or preposition stranding (“Who… to?” vs “To who(m)…?”) which can not have been points within the supply language. Does the fashion adopted convey the impression that you simply wish to give to your viewers?

In the end, the translated textual content ought to ideally sound as if it was the unique, written to convey your message with the fashion and readability you supposed.


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