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A good translator

19 marca 2015

Translators - as opposed to the interpreters  - have to deal with al lot of text. Those who reach the free and natural ability to speak and use a foreign language, translate it into the language they know best (usually their mother tongue, though not always). But what exactly is a translator’s work?

Convey the meaning

The question that must be answered by all translators is: "How can I convey the essence of the text?" A good translation should evoke in the reader the same response as the original.

If the original evokes the reader’s smile and arouses curiosity in him, the translated text should act the same way. This means that the knowledge of a foreign language, that a translator possess, must go beyond the understanding of individual words, grammar and language structure. He must fully convey the original intentions of the author. A good translator is characterized by a sense of context, style and the ability to pass the most subtle nuances of meaning.

Comprehensive knowledge

To translate the text about for eg. Engineering or medicine a translator must have an expert knowledge. Another skill is the translation of poetry and puns - it requires knowledge of a foreign culture and stylistics of a foreign language.

Adaptation of the text to the new context

Each language is deeply rooted in a different cultural, sociological and geographical environment. Therefore, translators sometimes have to invent new words to describe things or concepts which have no equivalent in their own language. In the case of texts which are very characteristic for the particular culture, you need to adapt the text,  so that it is accessible to people with a different culture or geographical area. The translation of this type is referred to as localization.


Language is variable

Individual words and phrases in a given language quickly undergo changes. New ideas and inventions, new ways to use existing terms force translators to create new ways of expressing these concepts in a language they translate to. This is one of the most difficult, yet fascinating aspects of translation.
Checking the meaning of a word in a dictionary is only the first step. Depending on the context in which the word occurs, it can have very different meanings.