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Common Ground when Translating?

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Just wondering everybody's opinion regarding translation. Do you try to find a solid middle ground between literal, word-for-word translation and a more "meaning" oriented approach? Or do you favor one method over the other?

When translating from French, it may be easier to associate words with common English phrases. But for other languages (except German), it may be a little trickier. Just an amateur linguist trying to gauge the community's approach.

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well it really depends. In some tasks literal translations are preferred, in others a more semantic approach is desired. If I'm going to translate a book, the author of the book is hopefully going to tell me how he would like to have it translated, but in general 'book translations' are of course more semantic-oriented than other translation tasks. When translating a service manual, I guess it is just really important to get your point across, even if you use different sentence structures and so on, but the purpose of such a document needs to be 'clarity', so sticking to specific sentences structures is probably less important. Culturally speaking, some jokes and some content has to be adapted in any case, because it could well be that a concept/content of the source context is inappropriate in the target language or maybe it does not exist or means sometimes else. So this is probably the true art of translating to consider all these things and produce a text that flows nicely in the target language and gets the desired message/emotions and semantics of the source language perfectly across.

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As mentioned before it really comes down to the text itself, if it's technical then the word for word approach would be the best approach but if it's fiction it can be a bit trickier. It's not to say that the word for word approach will be easier, especially if you haven't come into contact with the technical terms you are translating.

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