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Notes on Translation

Translation or interpretation can never be exact, complete, perfect, final. The facts of grammatical differences and lack of one-to-one vocabulary correspondence explain why there can never be a perfect translation. Words in different languages often do not have a one-to-one corresponding equivalence. This is particularly true of languages which are not in the same language grouping. Likewise, lack of grammatical parallelism is often most evident in unrelated languages. Clients often don’t understand these two basic facts of language.
Translating into English is often frustrating for this reason: since clients often think they know better how to use (abuse) the English language to express their own idea in their, the right, way. If they could do that then they would not need my services in the first place. They would themselves have authored dozens of published English language works, as I have. So I don’t do much paid translation anymore: clients sometimes don’t pay and are NEVER satisfied. It’s thankless and doesn’t pay well enough for the pain of dealing with people who really don’t speak English so well as they believe.

The points are:

  1. words in two different languages rarely perfectly correspond.
  2. grammatical structures in two different languages rarely exactly correspond
  3. Nonetheless, effective translation strives to attain parallelism in terminology and structure.
  4. This goal is imperfectly attainable, if at all.Don’t believe me? Google “boomerang translate” and have a lot of fun!
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