Detailed overview of translation

translationAs many freelance translators and professional translation companies know, translation is a process of communication of the meaning of the original language source in a way that communicates the literal meaning and creates a text equivalent that communicates the same meaning as the source. The source is what the original document to be translated is called. The language in which the meaning needs to be communicated is the target language. Therefore, a translation product can be called the target text.

Professional agencies of technical translation should keep in mind that the difficulties and conditions of their job are usually related to grammatical differences between two languages, context changes, figures of speech and other similar features. The perfect purpose of any translator’s job is the accurate communication of meaning.

History and origins of translation

Translation process is older than many think. Academics believe that it’s just as ancient as written literature, perhaps even more so. This is confirmed by Asian translation of a Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (one of the oldest works of literature) created in 2000 BC. To be more precise, the Epic of Gilgamesh could have been read by the authors of works like The Iliad and The Bible that used several elements of this text in their work. Following that, the very word “translation” comes from a Latin word transferre (to transfer). Modern Romantic, Teutonic and Slavic languages have their own words that communicate the same meaning as Latin ones.

Features of translation

There is a very common misconception that each word of each language can find a corresponding word in another. If that really were the case, there would be no need for translators, period. Computers would be used for translation which would have become a totally mechanized process. However, word-for-word translations don’t usually take important factors such as context, grammar and idioms, into account.

In other words, word-for-word oral translation usually leads to a text full of errors and lacking of clarity. Moreover, there is a risk of one language’s constructions being transferred into another. Such a mistake can be made by a machine, as well as a person that connects both languages in their mind.

Replacements and borrowings are often found in bilinguals’ speech, and that of whose who speak hybrid languages, such as mixture of Spanish and English, Portuguese and Spanish, French and English, Japanese and English. Either way, they’re undesirable in translations.

It’s clear that translation is not an exact science and it is developing quite dynamically. A translator should constantly look for a balance between accurate communication of meaning and following the norms of the target language. That is the key to success.