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Purpose of translations

What is the purpose of the translations - is it to do a word for word substitution or is it to arrive at as fluent a piece as possible, ie to end up with a final article that a fluent well educated native speaker in the destination language would feel is correctly and idiomatically phrased. Translation rather than transliteration? If so you may need to allow native speakers to parse the final article so as to render it into a form that is sufficiently colloquial that it is not obvious that the original is in another language. Just a thought - it doesn't mean that the final article isn't perfectly understandable - just that idiomatically we would not say it that way - to a native there is something just a touch "wrong" sometimes.

August 17, 2013



Beginners are encouraged to do word for word substitution because they see individual isolated words marked in the Immersion text for them to translate. They also tend to believe that word for word translation is the ideal and they may even alter translations when they don't see an individual word translated the way they expect.
I don't think native speakers are available for every article, but translators certainly should try to write something that makes sense and looks smooth in the target language.


I don't think they are "encouraged". Rather, there's not enough encouragement for better translations. Or rather we lack a way to "punish" literal translations.

I don't mind initial literal translations, but it's definitely frustrating to watch a translation that was getting more and more fluent be slammed back into the hodge podge of literal translation. It makes you want to give up.


I'm having this same frustration. I've been brushing up on my Spanish for the past few weeks, and was very excited to take the plunge into translating into English, but was so disappointed when many of my (less literal, but more fluent) translations were undone after just a few days. I've been looking all over the site for an answer to this question, because I don't want to be actively undoing the transliterations if that's what is desired, but on the other hand, I have a graduate degree in writing, and I know that translation is so much more than a word for word substitution.


Hi ionasky. your opinion is very understandable and I think it's partly right.Why? because the act of

translation is not by way of language but the context behind them ,I mean if someone translate phrase

A into another ,A is not always A in that county as poeple may doubt but the point is that if only A had

some meanings, A has to be included in another culture's context.For example, "apple" does not exist

in English because the correct one is "an apple" . but in asian languages "an apple" has some wired

meaning as they do not care about numbers so" a=one" does not matter.but if someone translate

"an apple" to this countory they have to explain the meaning of "a" to people there.So my definition of

"translation" is to transfer the concept of other country's backgraound by the language. I think this

funny ,too. LOL


I think the trouble is the native speaker of Spanish might not know the English idiomatic equivalent of certain Spanish phrases in English either, so for some translations you really need a good knowledge of both languages, Tal vez por eso me han dado tan buen rollo. translates on google as Maybe thats why they gave me such a good roll. Which doesn't really make much sense in English I had to look it up in a dictionary to understand what it meant and I expect a lot of phases just won't be in the dictionary.

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