Linguistic Challenges Faced By Translators

Translators face many challenges when they have to translate a document from one language to another. This seemingly simple job, takes up a lot of time and effort. Many translation service companies are rendering  immaculate translation services throughout the world. But only a translator knows how difficult and painstaking it is to translate a document without obfuscating the meaning of the sentences. A wrong substitute word used by a translator can distort the whole sentence, which can botch the whole document as a result.

Every profession has its own jargon. Therefore no two documents of the same language can be translated in a similar manner. A legal document in Chinese, translated in English by a Chinese translator, will have a different terminology used in it than an diploma in Education translated into English by the same translator. This shows that every field has its own specific jargon. A translator needs to find the exact substitutes of the professional terms used in a document. In the process of translating, translators sometimes coin new expressions and phrases. This has been an old practice and it has enriched languages.

Not every translator has a vast store of vocabulary of the target language/ languages. He may have a good knowledge of the vocabulary of his mother tongue, but the same often doesn’t apply to the other languages. While translating legal, medical and educational documents, a translator needs to consult from dictionaries and thesauruses to search for the appropriate terms. He has to go over the translation again and again, to identify any words or phrases that might make the translation look sloppy or unprofessional. Translation is a meticulous job, which takes every ounce of a translator’s effort and energy.

A translator knows when and where in the document he/she needs to use a crisp and formal expression and where he/she needs to use a figure of speech which is not very formal. Usually all documents require a certain level of formality. A document is never translated in its literal meaning. Literal language means words that do not deviate from their original meaning. Document translation should consist of the closest natural equivalent of the original document. It is a type of idiomatic translation which ensures that the translation is closest to the meaning intended by the original writer. A common example are the proverbs in a language. A proverb in English, if literally translated in Urdu, or any other language, would seem ludicrous and would fail to drive the meaning home. The same proverb would have a completely different equivalent (word wise) in another language, but the implication would be the same.

This brief analysis clearly demonstrates the fact that translation is not a layman’s job. Translators have the required expertise to translate documents and are professionally experienced and equipped to do so. That is why people hire the services of translators in order to get their birth certificates, marriage certificates, educational degrees, experience certificates and other documents translated from their own languages to English, despite the fact that English is a global language and spoken by half of the world.

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