Translation: a Process or a Product?

This is a guest posting by Levi Corrie from Aussie Translations.
Translation, a process or a product?

Translating text from one language to another involves a process in which the translator doesn’t just simply string the words of the source language into the target language, but a meaning related to the text in its context has to be considered too.

When a translator is getting ready to translate some text, whether it is a long or short piece, he or she starts the process with an initial reading and overview of it first. This is in order to get a feel for the text and who it is to target. The message in the translation should be expressed in such a way that the audience defined for the translation is the same as the audience for the source language.

The translator can detect this through the linguistic symbols and language used in the source text. If the text is designed for a specific gender in mind a skilled linguist and translator should be able to calculate this from the language used. The same applies if the targeted audience is age specific or it is aimed at the business community. It might even be so technically based that the audience are those people who relate to that content and no one else like for example a scientist. Deciding on the language to be used in the translation is a decision made by the translator.

Why translation is a process

The art of translation is a process because it converts feelings, thoughts and messages from the source language into the target language where the meanings in both contexts remain the same. The translator cannot do a word for word translation as the language ability of the audience has to be considered as well.

Why translation is also a product
The end result of a translation can be called nothing else but a product. It is something that has been physically produced with an end user in mind. The translation is paid for like any other marketable product. With the increased demand for translations globally as more and more countries, cultures and language groups merge for academic, social or business reasons and the World Wide Web helps to bridge the gap so translation becomes a marketable product uniting the world through communication.

It is no longer the question of providing a simple easy to understand translation but the discipline specialises in different types of translations with their specific features. This includes such divisions as legal translations, technical translations, document translations, product description translations and much more.

These sorts of divisions in a text need to go through a specific process by the translator in order to determine what type of translation is required and who will be the recipient of the translated product. For example, translating a product handbook for a buyer of a product would be different than providing one for a technician trained to fix the product.

All in all a translation is both a process and a product.

Published by

Multilizer / Niko Papula

I am managing director of Multilizer, a Finnish software company specialising in software for enhancing translation quality, speed and cost.