Translating in the Global Community of the 21st Century: Part I

Although designing culturally neutral documents is necessary in 21st century writing, documents for translating may be strongly imbedded in the culture of the source document, which makes translation difficult and may easily result in misunderstanding.  To make culturally sensitive translations, Houston Translation Services workers should observe the conventions of the target language and culture. This includes much more than observing patterns of organizing sentences and paragraphs and selecting correct, appropriate vocabulary.  It includes reflecting cultural and national conventions.

Unfortunately for the certified translator, conventions for expressing numbers can differ from one culture to another.  Although we usually think of numbers as standard, they are expressed differently.  Therefore, Washington D.C. translation workers must familiarize themselves with the conventions of each international audience.  They also require translators to make translations as understandable as possible in multiple cultures.

Decimals can be confusing, no matter the country, because there is no universally accepted expression.  In the United States, a period is used to indicate the decimal point, as in thirty-three and five-tenths (33.5).  Countries like Great Britain, Germany, Chile, and others, express the decimal point with a comma (33,5).

Numbers in thousands and larger units are expressed differently around the world.  In the United States, a comma is used to separate hundreds from thousands, from millions, from  billions, etc. (100,000 for 100 thousand or 10,000,000 for 10 million).  In Germany and Great Britain, a period is used (100,000 or 10,000,000).  In other countries, Sweden, for example, a space is used (100 000 or 10 000 000).  Writing out the unit (100 thousand or 10 million), instead of using all numbers, insures understanding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *