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A few words on translations

Here are a few basic data you should know if you ever get to deal with translations.

The purpose of translation is to pass on an understanding to people in their own language and create the same impact as the original text.

That tells you at once that a translator needs to gain a full understanding of the original text (known as source text) as a first step of the translation process. Obvious? Yes, but the implications are far reaching. For instance, in software localization, the mere fact of turning over the software to the translator and answering his questions about it can drastically improve his speed and the quality of his translation.

Some will tell you "the translator should know"... Well, if he knows about your latest innovations, you might as well sue him for industrial spying.

Great translations are not made by translators boasting "omniscient knowledge" of a subject. They are made by hard-working knowledgeable translators suffering from acute dictionariosis - a dreadful illness. Affected translators can be recognized by the piles of dictionaries stacking up on their sides and compulsory accesses to online resources.

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Machine translation

Understanding. This is actually the main bug with machine translation (MT). Up until the problem of artificial intelligence is solved, a machine does not understand the text you submit. Not a damn bit. It just follows a bunch of rules. Several MT software allow the user to program new rules in an attempt to approximate the meaning. The "translations" resulting from MT can be very baffling.

Humour, puns, style effects, or even regular text… are all liable to give very surprising results. MT cannot be used for professional translations. However, MT is not worthless. If you want to decipher the meaning of a relatively unimportant text, you can use MT to see what the text roughly talks about and clear up the points you are not very sure on with a professional translator. Eventually, sometimes in the future, someone may crack into A.I. and create a MT software capable to produce good reliable translations. That would be just fantastic. Hat down! But until then, MT is not an option for any professional. However, there is an other type of software used in the field of translation:

 

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