Significant Translation Errors

How to Avoid Significant Translation Errors


Translating languages lets us live together. More than 75,000 Americans work as interpreters and translators. 

But not every translator is great. Translation errors are common across the majority of translated texts. Yet you can avoid them. 

Why is word-to-word translation not effective? What skills should a translator have? How can a translator convey a sarcastic text? 

Answer these questions and you can translate to English and other languages without a hassle. Here is your quick guide. 

Avoid Word-to-Word Translation 

Many translation technologies like Google Translate engage in word-to-word translation. This allows the original meaning of the text to stay the same. 

But it is not often appropriate. Many translations miss idioms, slang, and casual speech.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is an English-only idiom. Translating it into Spanish or French word for word would confuse native speakers of those languages. Replace idioms in one language with an appropriate idiom in the other language.

Social media companies have a big problem with word-to-word translation because they use AI. Read on when you encounter a translated text and see if a native speaker offers clarity in the comments. 

Master Both Languages 

Some people try translating languages on their own. They are a native or fluent speaker of one language, and they have some experience in the other. 

They will perform a translation error at some point. They may confuse grammatical rules in one language with the rules of another language. English follows a subject-verb-object order, but some languages combine subject and verb together. 

Find translation services from people who have mastered two or more languages. Ask for examples of their work and look to see if they have any translation problems. If you hire a less-experienced translator, ask someone else to look over their work. 

Keep Language Simple

Many translators exaggerate the meaning of particular words. This is a common problem when translating two-word verbs like “bring up.” They may exaggerate the “up,” which is not always necessary. 

Other translators use many complex sentences. This can add sophistication to a text, but too many of them can make a text hard to read. 

Whenever possible, translators should shorten two-word verbs to one word. They can rewrite a sentence in order to do this. They should also break complex sentences into shorter and simpler ones. 

Reflect Emotions 

It is very hard to convey humor through translation. Sarcasm and irony require using language that means the opposite of the literal words. This will create misunderstandings when translated. 

In general, translators should remove sarcastic language from their texts. If that is impossible, they should edit the text. They can replace jokes with local idioms that allow readers to understand what is going on. 

Dodge the Most Common Translation Errors

Translation errors involve several aspects of language. Word-to-word translation is rarely appropriate for idiomatic speech. Replace slang with a counterpart in the other language. 

Hire translators who have fluency in both languages. They should keep compound words and complex sentences simple. 

Whenever possible, sarcasm should get cut from a text. But a translator can substitute humorous language for something that makes sense in the second language. 

Translation is just one aspect of globalized business. Follow our coverage for more international business guides.