This guest post is contributed by Paul Hench, who writes on the topic of master in public health programs. He welcomes your comments at his email: paul.23hench ~at~ gmail.com.
How often have you found that the text you're reading has been "lost in translation"? You know that things are not as they should be because you're fluent in the language you're reading, and it's obvious to you that the translator has made more than a few mistakes.
Translation errors are so common because it's difficult to find the right people for the job who are equally fluent in both the source and the target language. For translation to be perfect and error-free, the person doing the job must:
- Understand the usage of words in the source language: Certain languages use the same word to mean different things depending on the context in which they are used. For example, in English, the word "left" can be used in so many ways, as can many other words in the language. Unless the translator is fluent in the source language and understands the meaning of the words in the context they're used, there's going to be a whole lot of mistakes.
- Know the difference in syntax between both languages: It's not just enough to know the meanings of words in both the source and target languages, you have to be familiar with and fluent in the syntactical structure of sentences as well. Most people may know the language colloquially, but when they're asked to write, they stumble with the right syntax. And if the two languages have vastly different syntax structure, the translation is even more difficult unless you're able read the source, understand the meaning, think out the sentences in the target language, and then put them down in the right syntax.
- Read the source text carefully: Many translators make mistakes because they're in too much of a hurry to read the source text carefully. They misread certain words which have different meanings when a letter is either removed or added – like reading the word friend as fried or vice versa – and end up making mistakes in the translation as well.
- Understand the source text completely before attempting to translate: Although some texts can be translated sentence by sentence, most translations must be done paragraph by paragraph. It's up to the translator to fully understand what has been said in the paragraph and then translate it into the target language. The sentences in the translated text may be completely different from that in the source text, but they must convey the same meaning.
ForeignExchange's METRiQ quality system provides medical device and pharmaceutical companies with known translation quality - on every technical translation assignment.