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Essential Lessons in Translation


10 Essential Principles of Translation

1. A translation must give the words of the original.
2. A translation must give the ideas of the original.
3. A translation should read like the original work.
4. A translation should read like a translation.
5. A translation should reflect the style of the original.
6. A translation should possess the style of the translator.
7. A translation should read a contemporary of the original.
8. A translation should read a contemporary of the translator.
9. A translation may add or omit from the original.
10. A translation may never add or omit from the original.

5 Essential Characteristics of a Translator

1. He must be familiar with the language involved.
2. He should be aware of the different connotations which a certain passage may bear, but unless his work is to be cluttered with footnotes he is bound, after careful consideration, to set down what is the most likely meaning.
3. He must be guided both by the context in which a word appears, and by the sensibilities of modern English readers.
4. He should avoid giving any slant or flavour in a translation.
5. He should consider translation as ‘interpretation’ which mean transmission from one language to another, and thus, he should not inject any meaning of his own.

8 Essential Guides for Clear and Effective Translation

1. Try to reproduce the message; first, in terms of meaning, and secondly, in terms of style.
2. Do not hesitate to change the form of the message if it is the only way by which you can preserve its content.
3. Do not force the formal structure of one language upon another. Make any formal changes necessary to reproduce the message in the distinctive structural forms of the receptor language.
4. Do not be content merely to translate so that the average receptor is likely to understand the message; rather aim to make certain that such a person is very likely to misunderstand it.
5. Test the translation’s comprehensibility by discovering and eliminating two different types of expressions: those which are likely to be misunderstood, and those so difficult and heavy (whether in vocabulary or grammar) as to discourage the reader from attempting to comprehend the context of the message.
6. Do not just mechanically translate one word in the source language by a corresponding word in the receptor language. The choice of the right word depends on the context of the passage. Give priority to the contextual consistency because strict verbal consistency is likely to result in serious distortion of the meaning. All languages have natural limitations.
Terms which are vulgar in pronunciation should not be used in the text, even when the written form does not seem vulgar.
7. The connections of words should be clear from their arrangements and order, one should not have to employ mark of punctuations in an arbitrary way to clear up an otherwise misleading combination of words. People actually pay very little attention to punctuation unless it supports what is already the evident grammatical structure.
8. The best translation does not sound like a translation.
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