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Talk about English

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Translation Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Vocabulary from the programme

catchy
something that is cleverly written, making it easy to remember

I have to say I like her new song. It's so catchy.
We need a really catchy slogan for this product.

impact
here, a strong impression caused by an idea, event or innovation. In marketing, if a promotion creates an impact, many people notice it and talk about it.

The Internet has shown that you don't need to spend a lot of money to make an impact.
Everyone loved the adverts, but they failed to create the desired impact on the target audience.

publicity
public interest in something, or the process of telling the public about something.

Despite her success, she remained very shy of publicity.
The film's publicity really captured the public's imagination.

In the programme, Wendy mentioned publicity material. This is promotional resources used to generate public interest.

the target language
the language you are translating into.

I really believe the target language has to be the translator's first language.


Word Facts

Download the 'translating' Word Facts mp3 (862 KB)

Download the 'translating' Word Facts transcript (17 KB)

To translate something is to take speech or writing in one language and put it into a different language.

We can call any piece of writing, whether it’s a book, a poem or a technical manual a text, so it’s common to talk about translating texts.

If you’re reading a text which has been translated into your language, we’d say you’re reading it in translation. We also use the prepositions from and into when we’re talking about translation. Listen to this:

Most people have only read the Bible in translation…it’s been translated from Greek and Hebrew into 2,300 languages and dialects .

Sometimes translations lack the meaning or beauty of the original text. We can say that something’s been lost in translation.

I really didn’t like the book. I just thought the dialogue and some of the description was really strange… I don’t know, maybe something got lost in the translation.

Transliteration is different from translation. If you transliterate a word, you write it in a different writing system without significantly changing the sound of the word.

A lot of technical and computer words are just transliterated into other languages….

So that’s text, to translate from one language into another, to read something in translation, to get lost in translation and transliteration.

But what words can we use to describe translations?

If you translate every word in a sentence into an equivalent word in a different language, we can call this a word-for-word translation. However, if you try to convey the general meaning of something in language which is more beautiful or meaningful to your audience, we can call this a free translation.

When I was younger, I had a word-for-word translation of Goethe’s Faust… but this new translation is much freer… and it’s so much more enjoyable to read!

If you translate something quickly, so that people can understand the main points of the text, we call this a rough translation.

I can do you a rough translation for 4.00 today or if you want a more thorough one I can get that to you for tomorrow morning,

Sometimes we encounter idioms or phrases which have a special meaning in a particular culture. If we translate the words of the phrase rather than their special meaning, we call this a literal translation.

Did you know? - a literal translation of orang-utan is man of the forest.

So that’s a word-for-word translation, a free translation, a rough translation and a literal translation.