If we take into account that in the world there are more than 7 billion people who speak between 3,000 and 5,000 different languages, it seems that translation has become an almost indispensable activity to allow for communication between one another.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the blog by Merche Palomino Comunicación, because this agency specifically wanted to explain the importance of having a website translated correctly into English, since it is the door connecting you to potentially millions of people who may have access to your site.
In this task, interesting topics arose that I would like to share with you to help you resolve those issues where another language other than your own is involved.
Translation is not the same as interpretation
Both concepts, translation and interpretation, are closely related, but they are not interchangeable. Translation deals mainly with the written word. We not only taking about books, but any kind of text. On the other hand, interpretation does not refer to what is written downJ, but to the transfer of spoken dialogue from one language to another, including sign language. Interpreters work in places such as international organizations (UN, EU, etc.), courts or multinational companies.
It is also worth noting transliteration, which presents the characters of a writing system using the symbols of another system. One of the most common forms is writing words from Chinese or Japanese using the Latin alphabet.
Did you know that there are 40 ways to say snow in Finnish?
To carry out a reliable, high-quality translation of a text, it is not only important to know the meaning of the words that make it up, we also must be familiar with other aspects that go beyond mere words. To put it in another way, living languages are constantly evolving and are closely connected with the culture and the customs of the group of people who speak them.
In Finland, they have no less than 40 words to describe snow and all its variations!
(yes, yes, soon we will bring on the heat, a little patience, please)
In all languages, there are expressions and untranslatable words, i.e., terms that have no direct equivalent in another language:
- “Heimat” in German, is the place where we feel good. It is similar to one’s home or homeland.
- “Dépaysement”, used by the French, is similar to the feeling that a traveller feels when they are not familiar with anything in the country where they are located (language, customs, etc.).
- “Schadenfreude” is similar to a feeling of joy due to another’s misfortune, according to the Germans.
This helps me to shake off a few false beliefs:
If I have a good level of English, I can translate texts from Spanish into English
to translate, all you need is to have a good level of a foreign language
Translation is a discipline that can be considered almost like an art. To have a good level of English (or any other language) will mean you are capable of understanding the texts, but this does not mean that you have the ability to translate them into your language in a professional manner. And we say “into your language” because a translator only will translate into their native language. The close link between language and culture makes it very difficult to carry out a good translation into a foreign language.
To say that to translate it is enough to know a language, would be like saying that to be a writer, it is enough to know how to write, or that to be a painter, it is only necessary to know how to handle a paintbrush.A high-quality translator only translates into their native language#translation Click To Tweet
Technology helps us to be more efficient
In the beginning, translators simply used pencil and paper and made use of the help of physical dictionaries for terminology research. However, new technologies, especially the internet, have revolutionized how they work. Since 1940, ways have been found to automate parts of the tedious process of translation, to avoid, for example, having the translator translate the same sentence over and over. From these efforts, CAT tools have emerged (Computer-Assisted Translation), big allies for translators, since they contribute to greater efficiency and effectiveness when using resources such as translation memories. These memories store translations that have been made previously and re-use them in the event that an identical phrase appears, thus speeding up the process and ensuring terminological consistency.
Watch out! Do not confuse CAT tools with Google Translate or Bing Translator, they have nothing to do with this and they belong in “another world”. Automatic translators make a word-for-word translation that perhaps allows us to understand the meaning of a phrase or a short text, but that it can never replace an actual translator. Translation requires a deep understanding of the vocabulary of the languages, of its real use and the cultural context in which it is written.
My final recommendation is that if your goal is to get an optimal quality translation, which is faithful to the original, but which at the same time sounds natural in the language into which it has been translated, it is essential to have a native and qualified translator.