What You Need to Know About Translation

Translation is the rendering of the meaning of a source-language text as its equivalent in a target language. This doesn’t happen word by word. The mantra of translators is context, context, context. Words are embedded in the text as a whole; the text is embedded in its cultural environment. Translators need access to the complete text in order to understand how words relate to each other, and they need the cultural context to understand the conceptual framework.

Translation isn’t a simple process: the ideals of fidelity and transparency often collide. Fidelity describes the degree to which the translation renders the source text without deviating from it; transparency the degree to which the translation appears to a native reader of the target language to be originally written in that language. Faithful translations often are not idiomatic; idiomatic translations often not faithful.

My objective is to create translations that are as faithful as possible; if it “sounds wrong” to me as a native speaker, I won’t write it. You can be confident that my competence in the source language together with my subject-matter knowledge and native speaker status in the target language are the best combination to create a top-notch translation.

► Four Eyes are Better Than Two

For independent reviews of the target material, I work with colleagues who are German native speakers. I strongly recommend this process for any written material that’s mission-critical to your organization. For non-agency clients, I automatically include a review step in my quote.

There are other services I’m offering:

  • Editing and reviewing of translated German material.
  • Subtitling of films and videos in German. Contact me about details of this special service.
  • Websites for individuals and small businesses.