The Translation Process


For the outsider looking in, translation seems to be a simple process: a text is all you need to start translating. How many of you agree? Any translator worth his salt will tell you there is more to translation than merely having written words on a piece of paper.

Let us outline the translation process.

1) Reading

A translator starts the translation process with reading the source text in order to gain a general understanding of the text. A translator will determine the outline of the text, key ideas, the level of language, the style, the tone, the terminology used in the source text and identify segments that will require research on his part. Cultural references, innuendos, connotations will be identified and processed while executing the next step. Grasping the metalanguage of a text is crucial to the translation process.

2) Draft translation

After reading the whole document and doing the preliminary work, a translator will start writing his draft of the target language text. He will keep in mind the features of the text  and the target readership during the writing process. He will solve translation issues as they come up.

This step is the most important and often the longest since research is done at this stage of the process. Once the draft is completed, the translator will perform the last step.

3) Revision

This step encompasses much more than simply proofreading the target text. First, he must perform a bilingual revision, which consists of double-checking the target text to validate that it conveys the same message than the source text. When he is satisfied that the target text is faithful to the source text, he will perform a unilingual revision.

During this step, the translator will correct syntax, grammar, spelling, typography and ensure that the product is both faithful to the source text – cultural references, innuendos and connotations, just to name these particularities – and a quality product (devoid of redundancy, ambiguity, loan translations, grammar and spelling mistakes ) written in the target language.

As you can see, translation requires a meticulous and thorough analysis of the source text, research, a methodical execution, and both bilingual and unilingual revisions.

Personal work process might differ, but these steps ought to be included in it.

Grammar Corner – Capitalization

Capitalization of Titles and Subtitles

Laying out the use of capitals in titles and subtitles thoroughly is no easy feat. There are exceptions to the exceptions.

Here are the rules:

  1. Capitalize the first and last word or a title or subtitle and every other words except for:
    •  Articles
    • Conjunctions of fewer than four letters
    • Prepositions of fewer than four letters
  2.  The abovementioned exceptions are capitalized if they immediately follow these three punctuation marks within a title: a colon, a semi-colon or a dash.
  3. The abovementioned exceptions are also capitalized if they are the first or last word in a title.
  4. Words that are normally prepositions are capitalized if they help form another part of speech.

Source: The Canadian Style, p.82

For full information about capitalization, visit The Canadian Style.

Five Great Reasons to Hire a Qualified Translator

 “If you think competence is expensive, try incompetence.”

  1. You want quality work.
    A translated text has to be as good as your own text. You put a lot of effort in publishing communication pieces that convey your message and build corporate image; make sure the translated text you publish has the same impact on your readers.
  2. You want to ensure that your message remains the same.
    This will sound very clichéd, but a misplaced comma makes all the difference in the world.  Ask any lawyer; he will confirm it.  You also do not want to receive a request for a service or a product you do not offer or have to deal with callers who are unhappy with you over a message that was wrongly conveyed.
  3. You want someone who translates for a living, someone for whom translation is neither a hobby nor an extracurricular task at the office.
    This is the difference between your everyday person who doodles on a piece of paper and, let’s say, Michaelangelo.  Skills, knowledge, and talent are not as developed.
  4. You want your translated message to be effective, professional, and devoid of errors.
    Misspelled words or nonsensical sentences never look good and can potentially damage your corporate image. Remember, you are only as competent as the people with whom you surround yourself.
  5. You want someone who will understand and will be able to convey your message, not guess what you mean.
    Pick a translator who knows about your field of expertise. This practice will prevent “honest mistakes” on the translator’s part.

Take no chance and hire a qualified translator instead of asking a bilingual friend or colleague to do the job.


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