Is There an Ultimate Translation?

No. Actually I wanted to write just this: No.

In my translation class (economics), the professor sent us away with a one page translation as homework. The following week we came to class prepared and one by one we read out aloud our translations. All were different; not just slightly but sometimes completely. When there is a specific terminology (like economics), it is almost impossible to provide consistency within the class. In such cases, the professor should distribute a terminology list to the class. Anyway, after we read out aloud, the professor read the already translated version by a ‘professional translator’. It was also different from ours. So, I thought, is there an ultimate translation? If you give your translation to a freelance translator, how can you be sure that it is translated properly?

Translation is describing a sentence in another language. Every translator has a different background, different experiences and different attitude to his/her language. Some prefer to use old and established vocabulary, some others may want to use a vocabulary which is more contemporary. Some read more books and therefore can find phrases that sound more natural, some others may just translate it as it is. All these make a huge difference.

There can never be an ultimate or a right translation; however, there are of course ‘wrong’ translations (I know it sounds weird 🙂 ). Mistakes can never be perceived as different interpretations of a text.

After all this is said and done, it shows the important role that translation agencies play in the business world. A freelancer translates a document according to their own interpretation of the text, this at times can be incorrect, which is why is is important for the document to be edited by a second translator and then proofread by a third native speaker. In this way, you are guaranteed that by working with an agency who offers you these services (it is always important to ask the work process of the agency) that you will receive an accurate, professionally translated document.


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