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Difficulties of translation

difficulties_of_translationA good translation isn’t simple. Quite often, your typical literate “transcription” of the text from one language into another isn’t enough. There are several nuances you need to follow. That is why a truly good translator has to not only know the language really well, but to also be able to correctly adapt the result translation to cultural features of the target audience.

Difficulties of translation
As weird as it sounds, the biggest challenge comes from high quality humor translation, particular if it has somewhat of an ethnic character.

For those reasons, a translator of any subject is required to have a profound knowledge of his subject and cultural features of both nations with whose languages they have to work.

The need to adapt is usually evident in advertising and specialized texts. We’ll talk about the specifications of some types of translation now.

Specialized texts

A wide and very complex category. In this case in particular, a translator is required to have a profound understanding of the field and the subject in general. It’s hard to imagine a person who knows nothing about theoretical physics translating an article or even a whole thesis dedicated to string theory. While transferring formulas in this case wouldn’t be a problem, the lack of knowledge of the terminology would nullify many phrases and deprive the text of its academic value.

The case of social sciences is even more complex. Quite often, the academics belonging to this category like wordplay and to introduce new terms – it’s hard to navigate here, and the knowledge base required is really wide, touching upon several fields at once. Only that would provide an opportunity to follow the train of thought of the person who’d written the text, and at the same time, to not miss out on its meaning.

Literary texts. Their value is contained in imagery, allegory, and the author’s own language. These categories are exceptionally difficult to meet, because quite often, they have an ethnic character and, if translated into a language of a different ethnos, the meaning can slip away. In that case, the translator would in turn have to look for a maximally appropriate equivalent that at the same time takes into account the style of author’s narrative.

Religious texts

This category also has a very specific characterization. The issue is that all religious books, theological works, are literally impregnated with eminence and trepidation.

That is precisely why only a person who genuinely believes in what he or she is working on and who knows all the aspects of this religion really well can truly do a good translation of a religious text. Only this kind of attitude towards the translation subject would allow to fully convey the feelings that penetrate the treatise and touch upon the spiritual world of a reader like the original work. Otherwise, the translation would end up bland and tasteless.

Moreover, a knowledge of history and cultural features are vital here.

Advertising texts

History of consumer market knows many examples of a bad adaptation of an advertising campaign within a single nation completely destroying an overall decent imported product.

That is the biggest challenge of advertising translation. This category implies compliance with a couple of important factors:

Advertising should encourage consumer activity;

Advertising must introduce a product so as to cause demand for it within a certain nation or an ethnic group.

Here, a translator should take into account characteristic cultural features of the target audience and tendencies of the consumer market in question in order to perform high quality localization.

Following that, a translator should be selected carefully, and not until you’ve familiarized yourself with his works on the subject in question. Quite often, highly specialized professionals are required for certain subjects.

Finding a technical translator

technical translatorThe demand for technical translation grows every day. This type of translation is particularly in demand for the purpose of filling websites with content, as well as for writing theses. It is therefore vital to find a qualified specialist who can provide a high quality level of work.

Looking for a technical translator

Since such translations require a large knowledge base and take up a lot of time, such work is very highly valued. However, the basis here isn’t 1,000 characters, but a standard page with 1,800 characters.

The final service costs are also influenced by many factors. For example:

How common the source and the target languages are. For example, a SEO texts translation for a German website would cost you two times less than for a Japanese one;
Translation subject that affects the text’s complexity. The more specific and rare terms are contained within it, the more expensive the translation would be;
Timeframes chosen by the client. A high quality technical translation takes a few days. If we’re talking about tight deadlines, the costs increase.
Translator’s status is also an important factor. Translation by a native speaker is very valuable. Only such a person would be able to communicate the meaning of each phrase correctly. However, a native speaker isn’t always a professional, so it’s advisable to also pay attention to specialist’s other qualities.

What makes a good technical texts translation specialist?

Today it’s quite easy to find a firm that does technical translation. However, you should understand what kind of a translator would do their job perfectly. So a good specialist has a duty to:

Have a solid knowledge of terminology used in his work;
Have a profound knowledge of the translation’s subject;
Be able to simplify unclear terms from a different language without changing the meaning;
Be literate, sufficiently able to learn.
The only thing that would allow for a high quality translation of technical texts is following all these conditions.

Good machine translation – a reality?

good_machine_translationQuite often, business owners, in cases of being required to add description and characteristics of foreign products on their server are faced with a problem of the lack of translation for these very products. Most often, translations for these texts are completed with the help of online resources, the quality of which causes many doubts.

Good machine translation – a reality?

So would it be more rational to order a high quality and reliable translation from an experienced professional or would it be easier to do the translation yourself with the help of services available?

Advantages and drawbacks of automated translation

If we’re talking about the advantages of quick article translation done by one’s own, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s free. I.e. when you’re ordering from a specialist, you would need to pay them, whereas online resources are completely free of charge, anybody can use them at any time. Another moment is timeframes. The user receives the result only after a minute. The online auction will, by virtue of a couple of keyboard clicks, process the provided materials and provide a translation, whatever the source language may be. Unfortunately, this is where the list of advantages of automatic translators ends.

Why is that? I should point out that, despite the lack of charges and short time spent on working with these translators, the quality of the received result is quite low. A large number of mistakes, disconnected words in the wrong cases – this is what the user gets as a result. If you need a literal translation without further thorough correction (i.e. the only thing understandable is the overall meaning of the article), then you need to purchase the services of a professional.

Where can I find a good translator?

If the quality requirements for a translation of an article prevail over the need to save time and means, there is an issue of where you can find a reliable translator.

There are several ways to solve this issue, one of which is to order a translation on content auctions. An auction is a particular type of resource where hundreds and thousands of clients and professionals communicate daily. Here you can find someone to not only translate, but to write SEO texts, news or descriptions for certain products. In addition, these services are provided for fairly reasonable costs. The drawback of these resources is the impossibility of checking translation execution – so as a result, the client can receive a text of only a slightly better quality than that of automatic resources.

The best option for high quality translation would be to contact specialized agencies which provide high quality translation services. The firms charge slightly more than professionals at auctions, but as a result, the client receives what they need – a high quality translation written in an accessible language.

One of those agencies is AvepText, whose specialists can help with SEO optimization of an article for the best search engine parameters. Highly qualified translators have proven themselves by completed projects, and only the most positive client reviews.

Literary translation of articles

literary_translationOften, in order to fill up a website with content, site owners not only order articles from copywriters, but also prefer to translate prepared, interesting information from other languages. So what is literary translation? It includes translation of the following types of texts:

Publicist (newspaper and blog articles, news);
Advertising campaigns, leaflets, presentations;
Literary works, novels, stories, poetry;
Letters, correspondence;
Scripts and plays.

A literary translator is faced with a complex task: to communicate the main idea from the original, and at the same time, its primary emotions, narrative particularities, author’s personal style. That’s why professionals with appropriate qualifications are usually recruited, instead of the job being done by one’s own.

How much does a literary translation cost?

Tariffs on such translations vary. The cost is influenced by a number of factors:

Translation language, text complexity. If a language is very common, the prices are maximally accessible. For example, a single page of German translation would not cost much, whereas the same text in Arabic would be twice as expensive;

Volume. Clearly, the longer the text, the more expensive the job. Service costs are usually per pages, not per characters. I.e. if a sheet isn’t completely filled with text, you’d have to pay for an entire page either way.

Deadlines. If you need an urgent translation in the shortest timeframes, be prepared to pay the double fare.
Since literary translation requires good knowledge and skills base and particular abilities, it’s important to trust an experienced translator who has a philology degree. It’s possible to find a professional on copywriting auctions, in translation agencies.


new world of traslationNobody is denying the fact that the translation industry is undergoing fundamental changes which are influencing what we’re translating, how we’re translating and the costs of the job.

The primary (interrelated) factors are:

1. Technology
2. Globalization
3. Industry competition

Technology – computers, software, CAT, the Internet – all of that has substantially increased our productivity during the last few years, and this tendency is going to stay in the foreseeable future. Renato Beninatto, CEO specialist of a consulting firm called Milengo predicts that “…while translators’ income will remain the same or increase slightly, the price of a translated word would substantially decrease. Translators’ performance would increase up to 30,000-40,000 words per day thanks to the CAT programs which will soon be provided for free”.

Beninatto also foresees that the traditional translator- >corrector model is going to be replaced by machine translation, in which translation is going to be edited by a monolingual specialist at the final stage. When technologies required for advanced machine translation become accessible only for large multinational companies, individual translators and private translation agencies would substantially miss out and would be left with such translation fields as literature and advertising, where machine translation is not acceptable.

Presently, and in the near future, nobody expects Shakespearian works to be translated into Qhichwa (the language) solely with the help of machine translation; however, many technical documents (which generally include non-literary texts) can be “recognized” quite well and translated with machine translation. That’s why, the quality would be negatively affected by price in the near future. However, there are still many translation fields where style, accuracy and cultural adaptation prevail over straight, meaningless translation.

We believe that translation industry would in any case be undergoing substantial changes but, at the end, the role of a translator wouldn’t decrease. We’ve still got a while until Artificial Intelligence is invented, and that’s the only discovery that can exclude translators out of the translation industry. But by that time, people might very well be excluded from all the other fields of human activity. After all, it would be the last discovery or invention humanity would ever have.


translator_5It seems that there are a lot more women translators – over 70 per cent or so, although this depends on the sector in question.

Joint research by CIOL/ITI in 2011 found that 68% of respondents were women.

In Germany, statistics gathered by Bundesagentur für Arbeit in March 2011 show that over 70 per cent of oral and written translators are women.

According to Service Canada (2012), “women had 70% of work of this field in 2006; this percentage increased compared to 1991 (61%) and “this percentage is going to grow during the next several years, because 75%-85% of graduates of translation schools are women.

According to Norwegian statistics of 2010, the percentage proportion of oral and written female translators is 71,6%.

According to Association International d’Interprètes de Conférence (AIIC), 75 per cent of its members are women.

A study during which 1,140 oral translators in North America were surveyed tells us that 76 per cent of them are women.

A study conducted by SFT in 2010, in which 1,058 written translators have taken part, had 77 per cent of female subjects.

A study of professional translation conducted in Northern Portugal found that 77,3 per cent of written translators were women.

84 per cent of respondents to a study by Yılmaz Gümüş of 125 translators who graduated in Turkey in 2012 were women.

A study of 422 certified written-oral Spanish translators in Spain by Vigier Moreno found that 86,26 per cent of them were women.

A Danish study showed that 87 per cent of authorized translators that worked from home were women.

Research into printed journalism for women in Germany and Austria found that 91 per cent of translations were completed by women.

It can be suggested that the percentage of women is lower in the technical and technological segments of translation markets, but there was no way to find any reliable data in relation to these issues.

We can accept the rough estimate regarding the fact that the percentage of women translators is 70 per cent or more. There is also a suggestion that these figures are going to increase. Does the fact that most people in the profession are women have a positive or a negative effect on professionalization?

Some experts claim that the prevalence of women is clearly the “opposite” of professionalization and add the following comments:

“A translatess is considered a housewife if she’s working as a freelancer or a secretary/serves coffee, but has a higher status if she’s working for a company”. Nevertheless, such views aren’t considered universal or permanent, and can actually be considered almost anecdotal.

One of the most common explanation of the female prevalence within this sector could be the extent to which part-time work and freelancing can function alongside raising children. Since written document translation can be performed at home with a more or less flexible schedule, this type of work is considered very interesting by women at a certain stage of their lives. We’ve noticed that the consequences for professionalization are the changing factors such as part-time work and freelancing, and the issue here is very much not the prevalence of women in the industry.

However, a minimum of three studies below prove the following contradictory facts:

Detailed analysis of SFT data shows that women translate slower than men if we’re talking about freelancing market, most likely because women use fewer technological solutions. On the other hand, if we’re talking about translators that receive wages, not much difference has been observed between sexes.

Woolf’s research of the role of translators in German publishing houses: “as a result of our experienced research we can say that female translators don’t play domination games with men in the publishing field. They’re ready to learn interventional translation strategies and are happy to leave publishers that aren’t happy with this level of activity. Therefore, there is none of ontological servility occurring as a result of a woman occupying the position.

Dumm and Zetzen’s study, during which translators were compared with “key staff members” of surveyed companies – “employees that do the job that determines the company’s type of activity, i.e. lawyers in a law firm, economists in a bank”, women compiled only 14 per cent of staff members.

A fact that can be considered interesting is that key female employees viewed the job as relatively prestigious: “we found that key male employees viewed translations generally as a low-status profession, whereas their female colleagues are inclined to see a translator’s status as high”. Therefore, translator profession can receive a status of being accepted and highly appreciated by women, and not because it’s a very feminized profession – to the contrary, it’s because of that, the profession is very feminized.

Say Yes to translation editing!

translation-editingAlmost all translators – almost all clients as well – would agree that editing a draft translation by someone other than a translator is a great solution for achieving high translation quality. But then how come most translators don’t want to engage in reviewing someone else’s work?

Should a translator agree to this job and if yes, on what terms?

There is a type of clients that like to hire the cheapest translators (students, amateur translators) or use free machine translation software and then (who could’ve thought it), upon receiving an odd text that’s completely impossible to understand, they look for an editor hoping that he or she, with some corrections, would rescue the translation. Taking on such a job is a very unappreciated task because such “editing” would take a lot more time and effort than a translation “from scratch”. And a client who thinks that editing would only take a minute would probably not pay a proper sum for such a job.

On the other hand, however, in some cases (e.g. when the quality of a translation is vital), editing and proofreading of a good translation done by a professional translator is required in order to find and fix the smallest errors: typos, small oversights, errors in detail; or in order to improve the overall style of the text meant for publication.

I have a preference for such orders because they provide me with an opportunity to take a look at the translation process from a different angle, trace the thought process of my fellow translator, find some new solutions to translation problems. I am always happy to edit high quality translations and I also believe that it’s beneficial for my professional development.

However, due to these two advantages, I prefer not to take text editing jobs offered by translators I don’t know, without first taking a look at the original and the translation and consequently placing this text on my scale of quality between these two advantages.

When reviewing the works of those translators who I know well, who have been working with our translation agency for a while, I know their mistakes (yes, everybody makes them, even the best translators) and, therefore, pay particularly close attention to them.

I think that translation editing is very beneficial. Not only does it improve the quality of a draft translation, making it almost perfect (almost – perfection is unachievable) but also leads to increase in quality in the long-term perspective. It’s important to discuss mistakes with translators – by knowing their “favorite mistakes”, they will be more attentive and would eventually stop making them. Also, even a mere awareness of the fact that their translation would be checked by another translation often has a magical effect on translators and makes them take a more responsible and serious approach.

My experience with choosing translation statistical analysis software

logoI’ll tell you about my experience with choosing a program that provides a solution for a rather unconventional issue for a translator – statistical text analysis. Actually, these programs aren’t very common in the field of translation. Too bad: with their help, you can quickly select the keywords and key expressions within a text and, as a result, assess the subject and the level of text complexity before taking an order, and during a translation, be mindful of particular keywords. Also, the need for such programs appears if translators aren’t using translation memory programs, but there is a need to trace usage and translation of the key terms.

The first statistical text analysis program I’ve ever come across online is Wordstat (distributed freely).

The program is really simple to use – you choose a file (although it only supports txt and html/htm files, press the button and, a second later, receive the file – in txt format –with the keywords.
As you can tell from the results, the program’s algorithm is also perfectly simple: the program calculates the usage of words and, based on that, builds its own rating list. As a result, propositions and articles are the first on the list – certainly not what contains the truly important information. In addition, words are analysed one by one – this is a drawback, because glossaries, of course, have to include expressions as well.

So I continued my research and found a program called TextAnalyst (distributed freely), that has a better algorithm that takes into account, along with frequency, a number of linguistic parameters: a word’s position in a sentence, the sentence’s position in the text, how words are connected to each other, semantic parameters.
So, although as a result there’s a lot of “noise”, the really important terms are selected and can be used to create a keywords glossary. Unfortunately, this miraculous program only supports Russian.

If your source text is in English (or any other language based on Cyrillic or Latin alphabet), you can use my next find – Textanz. When compared to the Russian TextAnalyst, Textanz uses more “rough” methods and is limited solely to frequency analysis. The only linguistic feature of this program is the ability to not take into account prepositions, articles and other words included in a special list. Clearly, the very simplicity of the algorithm is what allows the program to work with several languages.

Of course, if you need to create a professional glossary for a large text, you’d better use a specialized program. The aforementioned programs would be more suitable for a hasty study of text content prior to the translation (in order to better assess the subject), selection of key terms and tracking their translation “for yourself”.