Methods of Translation

There are many different kinds of effective translation techniques that can make work easier and more efficient. This is especially effective whether in educational documents or for business documents, especially in countries where translation is required by law. While different types have their own advantages and disadvantages, they also have specific uses and areas of application where they can facilitate work processes, regardless of the industry or field of study.

So how does the translation process work?

While there are different scholars with hundreds of approaches and a dozen techniques, they all adjust well with the current demands of society across all languages and cultures around the world. There are certain levels of professionalism when it comes to the purpose of translation, and the particular method will rely on the kind of text being translated, whether religious, literary, philosophical, or even scientific. The main goal is, of course, to make the said texts more accessible and available to a wider range of readers to make sure that there won’t be any kind of miscommunication further down the road.

To begin, there are different technical procedures involved in the translation process. First is the analysis of the source text as well as the target languages. Second, there is a need to study thoroughly the source text before any translation can occur. Then, the translator should be able to make judgments regarding the syntactic preferences and semantic approximations of the text.

How do translators organize the text? There must always be a constant reevaluation of any attempts to translate. The original text must be contrasted with the existing available translations that were done by other translators. This is in order to check the communicative effectiveness of the text. The readers of the target language also need to evaluate the accuracy and effectiveness of this as well as study the reaction for legitimacy.

It’s important to remember that the different translation techniques may vary within the same text. This will depend on the specific verbal elements that need to be translated, as well as the nuances of each case.

What are the most effective direct translation techniques today?

For direct translation techniques, the translator must judge whether or not the original language’s structural and conceptual elements can be effectively transposed into the target language. If so, direct translation techniques are used. The techniques are as follows:


What is borrowing? This is a kind of direct translation technique that means taking the words of the source language and using the words directly without any kind of translation. To elaborate, there are plenty of different English words that are so-called “borrowed” into other languages as well. On the flip side, the English language itself also borrows a wide variety of words from different languages.

This kind of translation procedure basically means that the translator is literally borrowing a word. This means that the same word or expression is used from the source text and transferred into the target text. Whenever borrowing happens as a translation method, the borrowed word is normally included in italics for emphasis, in order to differentiate it from the other words of the target language. In essence, the translation method of “borrowing” is all about reproducing an expression that hails from the original source material as the text itself. To put it simply, this kind of translation technique doesn’t actually translate that specific word.

2. Calque

What is a calque type of direct translation? Calque translation can also be called loan translation, mainly because the phrase is borrowed from another language and is literally translated as they are word-for-word. This kind of translation is usually preferred when it comes to specialized or internationalized fields—one such field is quality assurance. This can also be the popular translation method of choice for particular subjects or specific vocations such as science and law, mainly because calques can sometimes either be obscure or widely accepted in the target language.

A word of caution: when calque translation is done unsuccessfully, this can result in a humorous and awkward phrase, which can highlight the blatant lack of expertise from the translator. This is why it’s crucial for the translator to be 100% certain of the translation in order to eliminate any obvious lack of knowledge on the subject matter. Using a calque means using or creating a neologism in the target language. This means that the translator must be able to adopt the source language’s structure flawlessly.

3. Literal translation

Word-for-word translation is called literal translation or metaphrase. Often used in certain languages only and not in others, literal translation can be tricky because it may or may not work across all languages. This is mainly due to the fact that one sentence can be literally translated between languages while another cannot. This means that translators will only be able to use this method of translation when both the source language and the target language have close similarities when it comes to cultural terminology. Both texts must be able to retain the same syntax, style, and meaning as well.

Why is accurate translation important?

There is no one right way of translation, as different methods will have different usages. What’s important is that the translations are used functionally as well as dynamically when it comes to the genre of the text such as contracts, tourist brochures, letters of complaint, commercial and corporate documents, and so on. The right translation is also crucial in terms of technical or literary types, the mode of translation (which involves either written or sight translation), and the purpose of the translation.

You should always pick a trusted translator who will be able to translate not just accurately but also with full knowledge of the cultural nuances of both source and target texts. Because there will always be gaps in between the two languages, your translator must have the highest level of expertise when it comes to expressions as well as the different methods of translations available so that he or she can make an informed decision as to what kind of technique should be used in order to avoid any kind of embarrassing or costly miscommunication.

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What are the most effective oblique translation techniques today?

Oblique translation techniques mean that the translation is only used when the structural or conceptual elements of the original text can in no way be translated directly without sacrificing the target language’s grammatical and stylistic elements. The techniques for oblique translation techniques are as follows:


What does transposition mean? This type of translation is where the different parts of speech vary their sequences when it comes to translation. A certain shift of word class happens, and there is a definitive change in grammatical structure.

While the grammatical structures themselves are often different across languages, transposition involves shifting one grammatical category to another. This must be expertly done without altering the meaning of the source language, which is why it’s crucial for the translator to know how to replace a word category from source to target without compromising meaning.

2. Modulation

When a semantic change or perspective is introduced, modulation occurs. The form of the text is changed when a phrase that is different in the original language is used in the target language in order to bring the same idea across.

While the change in semantics leads to a shift in the point of view of the source language, modulation allows the translator to create a change in the point of view of the message while still keeping the meaning of the sentence. This also eliminates any kind of awkwardness for the reader. This type of translation is normally used in the same language.

3. Reformulation or equivalence

This method is used when you need to translate idioms or slogans. Because the expressions used may have completely different meanings for different languages, the process can be very creative but not the least bit easy. However, with this method, even the names of interjections, idioms, proverbs, and institutions can be translated properly.

4. Adaptation

What is the adaptation method of translation? This is also called cultural substitution or cultural equivalent in that the translation is a cultural element. The source text is replaced with something that is more well-suited to the target language’s culture.

With adaptation, translators are able to effectively produce a more familiar and comprehensive text. This kind of translation makes use of something that is specific to one language, then expressed in a completely different way in another language culture that still seems appropriate or very familiar with the target language culture. In a sense, this kind of translation now becomes a shift in the cultural environment of the language. While the cultural reference is changed in a situation, the same source culture does not exist in the target culture.

There are also other methods such as collocation—which is the appropriate usage of a sequence of words that will normally go together in the target language—and explicitation, which introduces very particular details in the target language text. If something cannot be truly translated, then compensation is needed. This happens when the meaning that will naturally be lost in translation becomes recovered and expressed somewhere else in the target text.

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