The Source Text

Globe

The basis of a good translation

One of the problems in trying to achieve a good translation quality is the fact that source texts are very rarely what one could call perfect, i.e. they frequently contain errors, ambiguities and inconsistencies.

To ensure maximum quality in the source text, any content-related ambiguities are clarified in close cooperation with the customer beforehand.

After all, it's only possible to deliver a good target text if the source text's wording is clear and unambiguous.

Our clients tend to be grateful for the extra proofreading of the source text. It is not uncommon for the source text to be modified to improve its readability and conciseness – an added bonus of our translation service.

The Translation Process

Boot

From one riverbank to the other...

The German word for "translate" is "übersetzen", which can also be used to describe what a ferry does that takes its passengers from one riverbank to the other. The image helps us understand what a translator does:

When we translate text, we transfer language parcels filled with meaning from the culture they originated in to the culture of their future readers. The borders and barriers we need to overcome when crossing the water are not just of a linguistic nature. They are also due to the different cultures. Obviously, the future readership has an entirely different cultural and social background, a different upbringing and education from that of the author.

A purely mechanical word-by-word translation, the kind of which, for example, is done by free online machine translation software is practically useless. The result may come in handy for private use, but even there you have to be careful, as the changes in meaning could prove quite dangerous.

The reason for this difficulty is the ambiguity of words. It is not single words and sentences that form the basis of every translation, it is the entire text within its context. With this in mind, every translator is initially always also an interpreter of the text. Not until the translator has understood and interpreted the text can its meaning be made comprehensible to the reader in the target culture. So, obviously, there is no such thing as the perfect translation, but rather only good translations.

The Target Text

Brücke

The result of a translation

Needless to say that any previous translations (concerning the same subject matter) or glossaries provided by clients are carefully taken into account when translating the text.

After the actual translation work has finished, the fine-tuning begins:

The text is now subjected to a thorough, internal revision, i.e. it is checked and checked again for accuracy, stylistic correctness and language quality.

Particular attention is given to numbers (amounts, measurements).

Any questions resulting from the initial translation and review are discussed with the customer, the relevant contact person or by e-mail based on a list of questions. In some cases, ambiguities or questions are added in footnotes for further processing.