Learn These Translation Golden Rules Documented By Translation Experts

The translation history started several thousand years ago involving almost every language spoken by the human race. It could even begin earlier yet the oldest translation found today was the Gilgamesh which was probably written around 3000 BC. 

With its long history, translation has been adapted to a field of study in linguistics and studied by scholars from around the world from time to time. In its further application, translation is also treated as an art form that needs knowledge and creativity approach from the translators to achieve equal understanding and feeling between two different languages.

Shortly, the very basic rule of translation is to have a precise understanding even in every target language. Although this core translation rule sounds easy, it would become a long discussion because every language has its own characteristics that are not equal. The differences could cover the forms, structures, and expression of meaning. However, we have tried to compile worth reading lists about translation golden rules you can learn from the experts.

Be brief and clear

The first rule of translation is to be readable and understandable. Using not common words is not always a wise alternative even though it will make you look fancy. You should always keep in mind that readers will not struggle to read your translation as it must be brief, simple, and elegant. It is sometimes necessary to take out a word or consider the shorter option of translation if it is possible. By doing so, your translation can be clearer. 

Use proper grammatical structures 

Doing translation is not only converting the words from the source to the target language, as in it you should also translate the gist and tone. Therefore, grammar and word choice is everything if you want to deliver a perfect equal translation. You may need to be careful with adverbs and adjectives that create the tone of the text.   

Since some languages may have different regular sentence structures, translation may not retain the original sequences. Keep in mind that conveying a similar gist of meaning is the very basic translation rule. Therefore adaptation and using more natural expressions that are acceptable in the target language is often more acceptable.

Explore the subject content

Reading the original text carefully is very important so translators could recognize the content thoroughly. It probably needs more than one reading effort to render the gist of the text. When you have really understood the subject that you are working on, the rest of the process should turn easier as you know the goal and direction.

Furthermore, doing some research will be very helpful, especially for the subject that has ever-changing terms that update from time to time. Learning the subject will also increase your knowledge which would be useful in working on future projects. In this case, recording the new terms and registers should be precious assets that help you progress faster when working on the same subject field.

Give the proper meaning 

The translation should focus on giving equivalent meaning that is equally understood without unnecessary addition or expansion. Giving the proper meaning would need further understanding in the context of the subject matter. In this case, experience and knowledge are two things that professional translators should have when translating important documents.

In an effort to give an equal meaning, the translator’s judgment should rely on multiple considerations. The point is to use the terms or phrases that are used widely so many people understand their meaning. Direct translation is sometimes not very helpful so it is important to have some research to make sure your readers understand your messages. Therefore, using foreign or borrowed words for scientific words or jargon and using widely accepted words are more acceptable if there is no everyday equivalent in the target language.

Be considerate since context is a king

Language is set and used according to how its user sees the world. Some experts underlined that language is more than a means of communication as it could be a tool to convey ideas and perspectives. Moreover, language is closely related to time and space. It is also related to the dimension in which people are interacting with each others. 

This environmental factor so-called context is affecting the way people think and express meaning. Therefore, resolving the context of the source text beforehand is as important as recognizing the gist or idea of the text. 

In the golden translation rules, context is treated as king as every word choice should depend on it. De-contextualizing the source text will help translators understand the background and point of view. This initial process will grant easiness to the translators to re-contextualize the text in the target text. 

Reread your translation 

Just after you have completed all the translations, reread the whole text word by word. Repair any grammatical mistakes and typos and make a comparison with the original text. Using tools or apps for checking your grammar and spelling will be very helpful.

Moreover, you may need to take some notes when the text sounds unnatural, ambiguous, or out of context. You should submit your work when you are confident that your work is perfect.

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