Fundamental Techniques of Translation: A Pro Should Master

The core value of translation is to transfer meaning from a language to the target precisely without changing or adding a sense of meaning. The most common translation sometimes needs to bring the whole linguistic elements together to the target language to minimize mistranslation.

There are several techniques that you should comprehend in translation practice. Some of them only require a dictionary but some needs a deep understanding of both languages’ background.

Direct translation technique

Direct translation is the most basic technique applied in many language pairs and most text types. The concept of direct translation is to use the entire linguistic elements and put them using the target language.

In this technique, there is a borrowing practice where the word or phrase is conveyed as its original into the target language. This borrowing technique is to ensure the accurate translation of the subjects that have no equivalent meaning in the target language.

The second model is a literal translation that takes words literally to the target language. this trick translates the words directly with idiomatic equivalent words that have the same meaning and types. The literal translation also uses the same structure with similar word order.

The next direct translation technique is loan translation which is often used to create a new term in the target language using the borrowed words. This technique is also called calque. Calque translates the terms and constructs a new term in the target. This technique is often used in the internet and other technology-related terms.

Indirect technique

Indirect translation technique is often applied to language pairs that come from different cultural roots. This technique can change the sentence structure and elements to make the equal meaning of the target language. Several practices have different purposes and styles.

Transposition – Grammar has become the core element in language that construct the structure of a sentence or text. Every language has a grammatical structure that sometimes they are hard to translate. This first practice will preserve the meaning of a text by changing the grammatical structure.

Modulation – Every language has a different perspective in seeing things as it will create different naming for things. In translation, the modulation technique allows the change of perspective in order to achieve the intended transformation that appoints a similar meaning or definition.

Reformulation – This technic is often used to translate expressions, proverbs, titles, and names. Similar to the modulation, the reformulation allows structure and perspective transformation in order to create equally meaningful results.

Adaptation – Adaptation in translation is also called cultural substitution. Cultural element is sometimes confusing to change, therefore finding an equal replacement of cultural elements in the target language can make the translation works. This may need some familiarity with cultural elements in both languages.

Compensation – Compensation means to compensate a specific use of language nuance or elements for not being used in the target language.

Reduction – When a translator uses reduction in translation, he can remove one or more words if it seems too much for the target language.

Expansion – This technic is the opposite of the reduction technic in which the translators can add more terms in order to attain equal translation meaning. Expansion can be the option to deal with differences between two languages.

Those technics of translation can be used differently in different cases of translation of different language pairs. A translator should not use all the technic at once, yet they should understand which technic is best to solve a certain circumstance.


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