Inside the Mind of a Translator: The Commercial Implications of Translation Studies

By Sarah Maynard, Translation Project Manager and Translator at Prestige Network
BA Translation, MA Translation with Language Technology

Think of the last time you saved your company some money.

Now try to describe the scenario. How do you express yourself? What are your considerations? What are your constraints? What aspects do you highlight and why? And will you be understood as you intend?

Now how does someone else go about representing you in another language?

When dealing with a professional Language Services Provider, your translations are not only performed by specialist linguists fluent in two or more languages, but also perfected by individuals specifically trained to apply their proficiency to a practical requirement, either in verbal or written mode. At Prestige Network, the majority of our freelance translators have completed a graduate, postgraduate or diploma course in Translation Studies with the remainder having qualified in a language-related field. This means that our translation services team can analyse your texts for potential ‘grey areas’ and create tailor-made solutions that not just represent your company, but really ‘speak’ to your intended audience.

Translation Training: What’s involved?

A translator who has undertaken specific translation training will complete the language conversion process through a filter of audience-, author-, cultural- and style-related questions. They will firstly contemplate:

1.1 What the full source text is about and ensure they have a complete understanding.

This will be reflected in the type of vocabulary used and the subtopics should be considered as well as the general topic. For example a financial translation may specifically cover audit instructions or a legal translation may involve a court transcription. It is important to understand to what extend the topic itself will pose translation problems, which may arise in the form of culturally specific terms that cannot be translated into English; or idiomatic phrases that cannot be translated directly, to give two examples.

1.2 Who has produced the text in terms of industry, company, and specific department (taking into consideration medium, source, target audience and purpose of the source text)?

1.3 What is the medium?

Is the source text printed or electronic, and under which subtype would it fall? This may include a newspaper article, report, opinion piece or magazine article. The translator will need to consider if the source and translation will be produced for the same medium and what difference, if any, this will make to how they write.

1.4 What is the function of the source text?

What is the intended effect on the target audience? Is this an argument – for example, a piece of marketing, an instruction – as in a court order or a recipe, or alternatively a source of information – such as a list of ingredients?  The source may display multiple functions which need to be addressed.

1.5 What is the structure of the source text?

How is the content subdivided? How are paragraphs and titles used, how do ideas flow – again, would it be suitable to replicate this structure in the translation?

1.6 What are the register and style of the text?

Register and style may be indicated by the vocabulary used and the length and construction of sentences.  Register indicates a form of language appropriate to different social situations and subjects (e.g. informal, idiomatic, popular journalistic, specialised journalistic, formal, legal, technical, academic, etc.). Style is a characteristic use of language reflecting an individual personality and world view, which will reflect generic or institutional conventions. The translator will also need to determine if the same style and register should be maintained in their version.

Depending on the outcome of this analysis, a trained translator will then adopt an appropriate translation strategy, which will usually fall into one of two categories, loosely categorized as more ‘faithful’ to your original document, or more ‘natural’ in expression in the translated version.

At times it will be more appropriate to be more ‘faithful’ at the cost of being ‘natural’. In this case, linguistic structures and devices are retained upon translation, and annotations are usually given to explain cultural references, implied allusions, play on words etc. This may be more typically suitable for financial and technical translations for example. In contrast, a translation approach that focuses less on replication of the actual language but to a greater extent on the communicative event may be more appropriate. This comparatively more flexible approach is better suited for occasions where creativity is of higher importance.

At Prestige Network we are happy to work to any parameters you may provide. The more information you can supply regarding your company, your requirement and the intended use for your translation, the better we can tailor the outcome to your specific preferences.

With our linguists, you can have total confidence that you will receive considerate, quality translation services, first time, every time.

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