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Professional Translation Thats what I Wanna Do when I Grow up

Here are some tips and advices for a professional translation, to everyone willing to join the hidden links between people: translators. Achieving a professional translation of a text from French to English for instance does not just consist of adding the French article 'le' to all English words. You may remember the animated series " Pepe the Pew". All the episodes take place in France and "Le Fresh Paint" turns a black female cat into a female pew.

You can understand now how an automatic software translation of an article about Laura Bush, the wife of the American president, can have turned to be quite a mess. In this article, " Laura Bush " had been translated in French by "le buisson de Laura". The word "Bush" was considered as a noun (Laura's bush) and not as her family name.

The funny part is that when you speak about the bush of a woman, as the translation makes it sound in French, you usually are not thinking about politics. Not quite serious for a newspaper. As long as automatic translators will make this kind of mistakes, translations by human persons will be needed. I demonstrated in the first paragraph what professional translation was not, let's see what translating is truly like. The first concept that comes to mind is one of a craftsman. A translator is a craftsman.

Some of you, dear readers, may seem sceptical. Why in the world am I talking about art and craftsmanship? As an example let's consider the woodsman making a bed from scratch. He takes pieces of wood, carves them in order to form them.

During this step, he can attain different levels of strength and quality. At this stage, the wood pieces are just forming an unassembled bed, and I doubt very much it could be traded as one. That is why there is still another subsequently step.

The woodsman now adds his savoir-faire so that the bed will be comfortable and last for years. Once the bed has gracious designs inscribed on it, he may pass out his work. However, the customer will see tool marks on the wood. Would you purchase a bed that is not smooth and shiny? Sanding the wood is therefore the final step to be accomplished by the woodworker. Not that elementary, huh? Well, the translator is acting in the same way with the reference text. First step, he writes a draft copy.

As for the bed, it could be sufficient, the text is translated. However, it lacks the "savoir-faire" or so to speak, proofing. We check that there is no unintelligibility or misunderstanding. But then once more, it is not a wrap. The translation is not yet smooth, nor fluent. This is where the fine-tuning part comes in play.

Indeed, the actual job for a translator comprises concealing marks to make it a final professional translation. The reader must think that the target text is not the product of a translation service. What would be our response if we find out that our splendid bed, believed to be unique, comes from Ikea or an equivalent? When all these measures have been executed, a professional translation will be as strong as the bed and achieve what it was intended for. Everybody possesses the same components, but the difference in quality can still be huge.

As for a bed, any and all weaknesses affect the general quality of a professional translation.

About the Author:
Armando Riquier is a freelance writer and expert translator who has worked with Tectrad for more than a decade. Tectrad's specialized translation services include professional translation in Italian, but also in French and other major European languages.

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