In our last article, Quality Control in a Translation Company, we discussed a few of the parameters we use at The TR Company in order to determine whether a translation is good. It goes without saying that the reader should understand the translation without having to resort to the original text. That’s why he requested a translation in the first place, right? Unfortunately, many times, because of many of the factors we mentioned in part I of our article, this does not happen and one must read the original text in order to figure out what the translator actually meant.
Here are some more things we consider.
KNOWLEDGE, AND LACK THEREOF.
Much too often translators think that, because they know how to translate, they can translate anything. And that is not always true. Or, at least, not completely true – you may translate anything but you won’t be good at everything, and that’s a fact. Lack of knowledge of specific jargon and lack of general culture seriously undermine a translator’s work. Once a translator had to translate an opinion about a member of a Magic Circle firm and, without knowing what Magic Circle law firms are, he translated it literally making, obviously, no sense at all and even actually making it sound ridiculous.
WORD FOR WORD
Translating literally, or Word for Word, is not necessarily wrong. But many times, it is far from being the most desirable choice. A translation that is not functional, i.e. one which does not convey the “meaning” of the term but just the words, does not meet the basic requirement, which is to communicate. In Argentina, for example, the IGJ, which in Spanish stands for Inspección General de Justicia, is a division of the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for the Public Registry of Commerce and other Registries of Civil Associations and Foundations. Many times I have found it translated as “General Directorate of Justice” or “General Inspection of Justice” which, as I see it, does not convey anything.
Excessive use of translator’s notes (as footnotes or endnotes), especially when they are unnecessary, redundant, too verbose, or simply obstructive of fluent reading, affects the quality of the translation. It is always more desirable to find an alternative solution to include within the text. Many times this is a sign of the translator’s limited knowledge of the language or of the topic in question. Even if a translator cannot find a one-to-one equivalent, a resourceful translator should be able to use any of the several translation procedures to compensate for the lack of equivalence.
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
A poor translation is also one in which the translator has been inattentive to details, for example when a translator uses the “replace all” command carelessly, with the resulting inconsistencies and grammar mistakes throughout the text – typically, lack of pronoun agreement in both number and gender with the words to which they refer.
Little (or lack of) attention to formatting issues, as wells as spelling and punctuation, a failure to proofread the translation, and similar “details” may be indicative of little (or lack of) attention to more important issues.
AND, OF COURSE, GRAMMAR.
Last, but not least, poor grammar evidences poor translating and writing skills in general. This includes, for example, incorrect use of articles, lack of tense agreement, poor sentence diagramming, wrong word order in a sentence, and sentence order in a paragraph.
At The TR Company, we take translation quality control very seriously. Our translators work hard and conduct thorough and meticulous research and produce accurate, camera-ready documents while adhering to tight deadlines.
We will be pleased to assist you with any translation project. Please, feel free to contact us. We will send you an answer ASAP.