Dealing With Abstraction and Concreteness In Translation

Along with differing in connotative effect, content words also range in their degree of abstraction. As a Houston translation services worker explains, an abstract term or phrase communicates an idea, condition or attribute rather than representing a something that you are able to feel or observe. Abstractions tend to be wide-ranging, encompassing types of thoughts. Generally speaking, they are intellectual, academic, or philosophical. Some example include: passion, respect, improvement, heritage, and wonder. Concrete words and phrases, however, tend to be attached to the perceptible, material world. They represent a specific item such as a house, telephone, computer, swim stroke, fabric, kiss, orange, blue, pink, and five. These terms tend to be straightforward and vivid, obvious and precise.

Chances are you’ll consider concrete words to be superior to abstract terms because they’re significantly more specific. Nevertheless, envision yourself seeking to discuss commercial enterprise without making reference to concepts including employee morale, efficiency, revenue, ambition, and assurances. For many experienced Seattle translation workers, abstractions are essential, but tend to be problematic. They have a tendency to become unclear, susceptible to numerous interpretations. Furthermore they are generally uninteresting. It is never simple to get fired up over thoughts, particularly when they happen to be unrelated to tangible, real world knowledge. The ideal way to reduce this situation is by mixing abstract words with concrete words, the broad with the specific. Express the idea; then emphasize it with specifics conveyed through tangible words. Save the abstractions for thoughts that can’t be conveyed some other means. As an example, rather than making reference to “a substantial loss,” speak about “a loss of $40 million.” Alternatively, in Howard Crandall’s circumstance, rather than alluding simply to KFC’s rules of business, he might mention details including quick service, great food, and sanitary interiors.


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