Context in Translation: A Crucial Element Translators Should Consider

Context plays a crucial role in communication in any language. Always offer your translators with the context of the content you have provided in order for the translation to be accurate. 

Are you thinking of humans when I mention “arms” or are you thinking of weapons? 

It serves as a crystal-clear example of how context matters when translating. Because machine translation cannot recognize context, it still produces inaccurate translations when used as free online translation. This explains why the majority of machine translation errors are amusing.

context is interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs

Why is context important?

A phrase or sentence’s meaning is influenced by its context. It is connected to the setting in which communication occurs. Context is crucial when translating because a word may have a varied meaning depending on the situation. 

Meanwhile, understanding the text is also necessary for translation. Effective translation requires a thorough grasp. Although a sentence or text is made up of words and phrases, understanding its full meaning requires comparison with the sentences around it. 

The objective of the document as well as the industry or field it will be employed in must be considered during translation. Targeted language and translation can be used in technical, medical, legal, and other specialized domains.

Different Types of Context for Translation

Translators can receive context in a number of different ways. Here are a few popular and effective ways to give translators a view of the big picture.

1. Visual Context

Everyone on your team (translators, editors, and reviewers) can comprehend the message the source material is trying to express and how it is to be used since visual context enhances depth to communications by giving a visual accompaniment. 

The content that is being translated is retrieved in its visual context. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if it is a website, a desktop or mobile app, or perhaps a project like an Adobe Illustrator file. The “what you see is what you get” editor that translators use gives them a clear, real-time view of their work.

By eliminating the back and forth between translators and designers as they work together to fit all the text where it needs to be, this live preview significantly cuts the time spent on each project. 

When a button on your website needs to fit a word that is short in English but huge in German, for instance, either the button or the word must be changed. The translator can immediately recognize this problem thanks to the visual context with a good potential outcome, accelerates speed to market, reduces translation cost, and improves translation quality.

2. Linguistic Context

Translators can find the finest word choices to serve clients by using linguistic resources like glossaries that contain a company’s important terms, missions, demographics, localization methods, and geographical focus areas. 

It might be difficult to determine how to utilize a word or phrase in a narrative context. It is a wise move to be able to determine meaning without relying on the assumptions of a single translation. This will help ensure that projects are completed accurately and on schedule.

Create a branded glossary that has received internal approval and distribute it to your external team. Your project will advance in the right path if you can master the linguistic nuance straight away! The platform from Smartling has the ability to advance your linguistic environment.

3. Situational Context

Knowing the how and the why of a message gives a much deeper sense of understanding to a consumer.

When a person receives a message, they can put themselves in a certain time, place, and situation and allow themselves to open up to receiving in a more meaningful way. Strategize a thorough description for your translator. Include subtleties such as weather, locale, humor, and social references. If you think a detail is too niche, include it anyway.

It’s also important to include your translator in the conversation! 

Smartling translators are like your local experts, they understand the culture you are writing about since they live there. This means their expertise can help provide additional situational context, tweaking the presentation of your message to better fit local culture and interests.

Brands should strive to collaborate with their translators, and Smartling makes that super easy.

A project’s context can make or ruin it because it provides communications a purpose, a personality, and precise descriptors. A well-organized context plan is beneficial to all team members (translators, editors, and reviewers), and using one from the beginning can help you save a ton of time, money, and effort. All in all, it supports your alignment in a consistent context, which will save your time to market, save your money, and preserve a great deal of your sanity.

Share this :

The content on this website including news, data, quotes, and other information is provided by third parties. Every attempt has been made to give appropriate credit to the sources as listed. If the subject or the author claims further credit or removal, please do not hesitate to contact our webmaster at

PT Gobal Media Transcoporindo is not liable to you for any content, image, or information that is not correct, and/or violating any copyright law, and/or credited to third parties.