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4 common document translation mistakes

Est. Reading Time: 5min
Category: Translate
Last Updated: November 25, 2020
By: Rana Hamodah

Said to be worth $39.61 billion in 2019, the translation services market is rapidly growing and is expected to hit the $462.21 billion mark by 2027 thanks to an expected CAGR rate of 2.1 percent.

The demand for document translation services is on the rise thanks to businesses going global and people realizing the importance of good translation. However, not all providers are good or reliable and some can end up committing mistakes that can cost your business a lot.

In this article, we’ll have a look at some of the most common document translation mistakes to help you figure out what to look for when getting documents translated.

These mistakes are surprisingly common, whether you hired a certified translation agency or use a tool like Google Translator.

Using Word to Word Translation

This problem is common when using computers. Automatic translators might be quick and affordable but they’re not a very good option for businesses interested in document translation as they usually perform word to word translation without paying attention to the context or other elements that matter for communication.

Also known as a literal translation, it refers to translating each word separately and putting it in a sentence or phrase.

Since a word can have several meanings, literal translations can end up ruining the real message, discord the meaning of your text, and make it lose its significance. Plus, grammatical issues may also occur when you opt for word to word translation because grammar rules change from language to language and can be tricky to master.

It’s important that you choose a certified translation agency that offers to translate in the same manner and style as a document requires. It is important to remember syntactic rules when translating a document.

You will not have to worry about this problem when you only have to get certain words translated and not entire paragraphs or phrases.

Translating Without Understanding Context

Stay away from hiring a certified translation agency that performs translations without understanding why you need a document translated.

People need documents translated for a variety of reasons. Some want to make a presentation. Some want to submit a university essay. Some have to impress friends and some want to reach a new audience.

The tone and vocabulary selected depend on a variety of factors including your target audience and the purpose of reaching them. For example, if you are getting a story translated for children then the translation agency should avoid using difficult words that children may not understand.

Work with a language translation services provider who takes the time needed to understand your requirements and offers good communication.

Incorrect Punctuations

The purpose of punctuation is to help readers know how a sentence is to be read. Poor punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence and make it difficult to read and comprehend.

Punctuation mistakes are common in almost all languages including English.

Here’s a simple example:

  • It’s time to eat grandma.

  • It’s time to eat, grandma.

The first sentence will make people think you practice cannibalism, as if you’re ready to eat your grandma.

The other one, which is correct, shows you are telling your grandma it’s time to have food.

As seen above, a comma can change the meaning of your statement and lead to confusion. This is why it is important to pay special attention to this factor when performing document translation.

Most translators and writers look for punctuation issues during the proofreading or editing phase. We suggest that you choose a certified translation agency that understands the importance of punctuation and works hard to provide professionally translated documents.

4. Not Having a Good Understanding of the Subject

The translator should not only have a clear understanding of the language but also of the subject matter. Let us quote a real life example.

According to reports, there were translation mistakes in former Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death certificate that was originally translated from Russian to English.

Due to translation issues, both documents ended up saying different things, which resulted in several conspiracy theories that are still unsolved. Experts believe that this happened because the translator did not have a complete understanding of the medical and legal language used in the original document.

If you search the web, you will find many more such examples. This is why it is important that you find someone who understands the topic, i.e.: lawyer to translate legal agreements.

It might make the job a little costly but it will save you a lot of time and money since your document will be reliable and free of mistakes.

Consider getting in touch with us if you’re looking for an error-free translation. At Translate Calgary Services, we take our job very seriously and have a detailed QA process that ensures you get error-free translation every time you work with us.

Whether you’re interested in document translation or story translation, we have you covered. Get in touch with us to start a conversation.

About the author

Rana Hamodah

As a migrant to Canada, Rana understands the challenges newcomers face and how access to information can help ease the transition.

Her two Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Literature and Translation paired with her Masters in Education and her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy (EDD) at the university of British Columbia make her uniquely qualified in ethnocultural communications. She is a Commissioner for Oath and can administer oaths and take, receive, and attest affidavits, affirmations and declarations. Currently, she is also pursuing her Immigration Consultant Certificate.