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ghanashyam

The Tricks Of Translations

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Here in India, we have two types of translations. 1. True to words. 2 True to meaning.

While I was working on translations jobs in the court, I had to translate first true to word and then true to meaning. True to meaning translation is very because one has read the whole content first so that the meaning of the original story is not lost.

What type of translation is accepted in courts in your country?

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Interesting point you raise about translations. I've no qualifications or training translating, but in my academic work I've had to translate a lot (thousands!) of documents from Dutch to English. To be honest, I often felt I was just muddling along, without having a real clue as to what I was doing.

Given the purpose of the translations, what I've been doing is mostly been trying to translate true to meaning. Of course, often I'd first be transcribing from a difficult to read handwriting, then translating the source text from Early Modern Dutch to modern Dutch, before translating into English. A lot of scope for misinterpretation!

I suppose I instinctively knew there were different ways of translating, but didn't know that there was terms for it. I'm actually really interested, and would love to find out more.

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I am not very sure about the sort of translation that would be demanded in court, but I guess it would be "true to meaning" most of the time!

If we speak about translations in a broader sense, we definitely have both types of translations: "true to words" and "true to meaning". When I studied translation at University in Switzerland we had a lot of theory about both of them. Depending on what your work is, you would naturally have to choose (most of the time you can't choose anyway as this should be communicated previously be the "customer".

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That is a great point! These are two perspectives between which most translators get lost! True to meaning does make more sense in real world translations though :)

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Never thought of translations from a legal approach because I mostly do translations for the average client that needs every-day texts or documents translated into his own language, or from his language to another.

Even though I never do literal translations (true words) because the final result makes no sense at all.

True to meaning is my choice and only stick to true-word translation when a set of words can be translated literally without losing their meaning or sound awkward to the whole context.

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In the US, they usually look for true to word and true to meaning for court cases.  Thank you for sharing. This is very interesting.

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Virtue lies in the middle. Doing Translation Studies in college, the first thing I was told was that translating word-for-word was the worst possible way of going at it. On the other hand, full liberty is also ill-advised - you shouldn't be authoring a new text, but adapting an existing one into another language system.

Even if he his an old cad, I still follow John Dryden's take on equivalence. His Preface concerning Ovid's Epistles is still my favourite text on Translation Theory, and a model I tend to follow in all my translations. Here it is, if anyone's interested: http://www.bartleby.com/204/207.html 

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I think translating by meaning is the best way to translate in most situations, regardless of language. Still, it's a little vulnerable to becoming subjective, so a healthy does of literal translation for good measure being thrown in might still be best.

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True to meaning is the way to go. If you look at the Marketing Mistakes Abroad thread within Linguaholic, you'll see some absolutely fantastic examples of what happens when we just directly translate words across. Even at times we will just translate phrases within phrases; an example of this is like I just posted about Pepsi. Pepsi's slogan at a time was "Come alive with Pepsi!" but in China, they translated it to "Pepsi bring your ancestors back from the dead!"

I think we can all agree if we speak English, that "Come alive!" in the original slogan was not meant to insinuate that it could raise the dead. It was just an English way of saying "Wake up and be refreshed!" or "Be vitalized!" or what have you.

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True to meaning is the way to go. If you look at the Marketing Mistakes Abroad thread within Linguaholic, you'll see some absolutely fantastic examples of what happens when we just directly translate words across. Even at times we will just translate phrases within phrases; an example of this is like I just posted about Pepsi. Pepsi's slogan at a time was "Come alive with Pepsi!" but in China, they translated it to "Pepsi bring your ancestors back from the dead!"

I think we can all agree if we speak English, that "Come alive!" in the original slogan was not meant to insinuate that it could raise the dead. It was just an English way of saying "Wake up and be refreshed!" or "Be vitalized!" or what have you.

That's why Google translate isn't that effective, it tends to translate words literally, like that "Come Alive" example. So if the true to word method doesn't sound right, then you translate it using the true to meaning method. Then the sentence would be really translated correctly.

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I once did a self-made project of translating some Spanish poetry, just to challenge myself in this issue.  It was hard!  I got the full play of how the words and sentences flowed together and created meaning and harmony by in Spanish, but then I would change it to English and realize how much I needed to balance between words or overall meaning.  Then there was the issue of maintaining the rhythm of the pieces, which was also fun.

I think it's a little subjective.  For some things, a word-by-word translation works fine, but for others, it's best to take the middle ground and use a mixture of the overall meaning of the piece and that of individual words.  It's just a matter of knowing when you're leaning too heavily on one or the other and finding the proper balance.

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This is the first time I have heard about these types of translations, and it is very interesting to read about them! My personal experience when it comes to translations is when hanging out with people here in Sweden. Some of my friends speak just in Filipino or just in Swedish and often times, I have to translate for both so that they can understand each other. I guess the trick is to use the important phrases or "keywords" of every topic so that they are able to get the gist of what everyone is talking about.

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I too was really interested by this post and this is the first time I have heard the distinction in translations.  I am in the legal field and never really thought about the issue having used certified translators.  I can see the idea of "true to word" since the translator is not "interpreting" what the person said, but I also can understand "true to meaning" especially if the literal translation does not convey the "sense" of what the speaker was saying.  It is interesting since testimony is so important, that any changing of the actual testimony, so to speak, would be an alteration and somewhat in the control of a third party.  Fascinating question and answers above.

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Having done a fair amount of translations, any professional translator will tell you - you have to translate true to meaning, always.

If you translate the word, but the meaning changes -- it's not a good translation, because the meaning is altogether different.

It is impossible to translate word by word in a different language and to preserve the meaning. Languages are simply differently constructed. If the meaning is not the same, the translation is bad.

So I always translate the meaning.

A literal translation is a bad or sloppy translation in my book.

If you do a legal translation and you change the meaning, you can even get sued.

If you change the word, but preserve the meaning, no one can sue you.

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True to meaning, true to word would not be used at all in my country, after all we are always try to rush things up in court.  I know because a relative of mine works as a lawyer. I guess not many court in the world use true to word, not even in the translation of birth certificates.

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I wouldn't really know what is acceptable here in my country. I never had anything to do with court translations. It makes sense to me that you would require both, true to word and true to meaning, to get a detailed picture. It would be very detrimental for all parties involved if a court translation was lacking in accuracy.

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Wow, that is a very interesting piece of information. I am wondering if a recording device can be used to verify the words for its meaningful translation later.

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This is fascinating. I take "true to word" to mean a direct translation, such as "How are you?" "True to meaning" sounds more like a cultural understanding that is being interpreted. For example, while some languages may use the word "heavy" as a descriptor for weight, another may use it as an emotional descriptor. This is why some translations of fictional works are preferred over others in academia. I particularly remember preferring one translator of Kafka works. When I studied Kafka, in the original German, I found that some translators missed significant interpretations for key phrases when discussing the meaning of a story. The terms "judgment" and "torture" come to mind.

I imagine working for the courts would require the utmost confidence, relying on instinct to correctly translate both the cultural history and meaning of a word, as well as a direct translation of that word. I'm not sure I could handle that sort of pressure, to be honest - especially if my translation could impact a person's guilt or innocence. Bravo to those who can! It is admirable.

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It is beyond obvious that literal translation is useless.  True to meaning is in fact what we are after.  When we say that information doesn't translate well.  What we are really saying is that we have not taken time to really appreciate what the writer is attempting to communicate to the reader. "True to meaning " suggest that the context and full body of the text are being taken into consideration.  Even cultural awareness should be applied to any translation to avoid misunderstanding between the source and target languages.

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I honestly don't know how words are translated in our court here in the Philippines. However we mostly translate words based from its meaning because if we translate it literally, the thought might be completely be different.

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Interesting to know about that as I am not aware that there are two types of translations for a court.

I do not work in a court here so, not sure if they also have the two translations. But I think the true to meaning will be mostly used or more important type of translations for those kind of data or documents.

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I am not incredibly familiar with court translations here in Australia (apart from having met a couple of court interpreters, which I guess is a slightly different job).

Australian translators and interpreters need a licence to do any sort of work for the government or judicial system (accreditation with a national association of interpreters and translators), and I believe they also need special training to do court work. Interpreting is a little different to usual - they are required to be precise and not leave out any details like, unlike in a conference situation where they are required to be faster and really paraphrase. I can imagine that translators (for official records) are also required to be very precise with their translations.

In both cases, my understanding is that translating the ideas, not the exact words is more important, because words have different meanings and connotations across languages. It is of utmost importance to make clear what the person means to say, because their exact words might not hold the same meaning in the target language as they do in the speaker's own language. I've heard that it's usual for the interpreter to ask the speaker questions to really clarify things before giving their translation, for example.

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I'm just curious, how do you do the "true to words" kind of translation? Because as we all know, different languages has different sentence constructions. So, if you're just going to translate it word per word, it might be confusing (Google translate, anyone?) Would you mind posting an example? I'm just dead curious.

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We have translators for whichever language the court requires them to be. They translate everyones language to the language of the court and then we have someone writing down every single word but nothing more than that. The lawyers and judges mumbo jumbo in Latin is just used as terminology when referencing.

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