Definition of translating
A translator's job is to convey into the
target language a text from a source language.
The notion of target and source languages
is critical. A target language is the translators'
native language, the one they know all (or
close to all) the subtleties, registers of
language, styles etc. Their source language
is one which they have a very good knowledge
of, comprehend very well but is not necessarily
their mother tongue. This distinction is
important because in order to give a good
translation you must be at ease with the
target language. Translators should only
take on translation jobs into their target
There are many theories on translating, books
and reports galore but being concise is a
key element so if there are just a few points
to remember :
Does the translation contain all the information
of the original and nothing else?
Does the translation convey the information
as simply and as clearly as possible? If
not, rewrite it!
Does the translation read as if it had originally
been written in the target language? If not,
there is something wrong with it.
Also, in line with these principles is GIGO:
garbage in garbage out. A poor original text
is no excuse to hand in a bad translation.
If you are paid for a translation do your
best to carry out your job.
Information or "content", in Internet
terms, is also key when translating. The
ability to access information and databases
providing you with the adequate terms can
make the difference.
The European Union's language
database is extremely useful. Eurodicautom
works with the official 11 European languages
which incidentally are English, French, Spanish,
German, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Portuguese,
Danish, Swedish and Finnish. When using this
site my advice would be to extend the number
of results to at least ten per page. Also,
if you are looking for a set of words, put
them in the form and press "phraseology"
instead of term. A further element providing
better results is if you know, for example,
that the word you are looking for is specific
to aviation then select this category on
the right of the form.
The European Union's style guide
is available in various languages and gives
you a reference on how to write figures,
dates etc. Now, this is not a definitive
reference as different international organisations
have their own style guides but it does provide
you with the experience of professional translators
and an element of consistency. A poor translation
could be one where you spell some words "ize"
and some "ise" for example.Whatever
you do, be consistent, no one can then accuse
you of being piecemeal.
In reference to point number 2 concerning
being concise, the European Union has set
up a programme called "fight the fog
". The site explains how people tend
to write too "elaborately" when
things can be put simply. An example "
When the troops arrived without any previous
warning, this lead to damage."can be
put in a manner that reads better "The
arrival of unannounced troops caused damage."
Although taking a humorous view the point
behind this programme is important.