Translation Problems

Translation Problems

Est. Reading Time: 4min
Category: Translate
Last Updated: March 4, 2022
By: Rana Hamodah

Translation necessitates a thorough knowledge of both grammar and culture. Translators must be familiar with both the norms of the language and the customs of the people who speak it. Confusion and irritation are sentiments that even the most seasoned experts are familiar with.

The following are some of the most prevalent translation challenges:

Language Structure

Every language has its own set of laws and is contained inside a specific framework. The difficulty of translation is directly proportional to the framework’s complexity and singularity. In English, a simple sentence consists of a subject, verb, and object, in that sequence. “He eats pizza,” for example. However, not every language has the same structure. In Farsi, the subject comes first, then the object, and finally the verb. In Arabic, subject pronouns are literally included into the verb. As a result, translators must regularly add, remove, and rearrange source words to communicate effectively in the target language.

Idioms and Expressions

Idiomatic phrases use one-of-a-kind instances or figures of speech to illustrate something. Most significantly, the literal meanings of the terms it includes cannot forecast the meaning of these strange statements. Idioms, according to many language experts, are the hardest to translate. Idioms are frequently identified as a challenge that machine translation engines would never be able to fully tackle. In an ideal world, publishers would aim to keep the amount of idiomatic terms in the text they seek to translate to a minimum. However, if they insist on maintaining these potentially perplexing terms, cultural familiarity should be a top consideration when hiring translators.

Compound Words

Compound words may differ from the meaning of its constituent terms. It’s typically easier to conceive of them as three distinct groupings. The first group of compound words all mean the same thing. The terms “airport,” “crosswalk,” and “seashore” are all well-known. In a literal sense, the second category of compound words only signify half of what they say. While a “bookworm” may love getting lost in a good narrative, they do not transform into an invertebrate species in the process. The meanings of the third category of compound words have nothing to do with the meanings of the constituent words. The term “deadline” in English, for example, refers to the last allowable time to receive or deliver anything. It has nothing to do with a line or death. A “butterfly,” on the other hand, is neither a fly nor butter.

Missing Names

A language’s match for a certain action or item in another language may not be accurate. Some homeowners, for example, have what is known as a “guest room” in American English. It’s only a place for their invited visitors to spend the night. Other languages include similar concepts, although they are typically stated in a different way. The Greeks use the single term “ksnona” to describe it, whereas their Italian counterparts use the three-word phrase “camera per gliospiti.” Consider this a beginning step in the direction of localisation.

Two-Word Verbs

When a verb and a preposition are used together, they might have independent, distinct meanings. In casual English, two-word verbs are prevalent. Examples include “look up,” “close up,” “fill out,” “shut up,” “bring up,” “break down,” and “break in.” However, translating the preposition individually is neither necessary nor suitable in many circumstances.

Multiple Meanings

Depending on where it’s used and how it’s used in a phrase, the same word might signify different things. There are two common patterns for this occurrence. Some homonyms appear and sound the same but have distinct definitions. Then some heteronyms are similar in appearance but differ in meaning and pronunciation.

Translating Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a caustic, bitter mode of communication that frequently means the polar opposite of what it says. When translated word-for-word into another language, sarcasm usually loses its meaning and can lead to unpleasant misunderstandings. A publisher should, in theory, remove sarcasm from the source material before translating it. However, when such style is critical to the content needs, the publisher should make sarcastic portions stand out. Translators like Calgary Translation Services will be able to prevent literal misunderstandings and recommend a local idiom that would function better in the target language in this manner.

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.