Document translation is a complex process with numerous challenges, including inaccuracies, loss of cultural nuances, and increased costs.

To achieve accurate and effective translations, it is critical to assess these challenges before starting on a document translation job.

  • Inaccuracies during document translation can result from language complexities, cultural differences, and technical jargon, leading to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
  • Cultural nuances, such as idioms and humor, can be lost during document translation, impacting the message’s effectiveness.
  • Technical terminology can pose challenges, especially when translating specialized content or industry-specific documents.
  • Increased costs and time can arise from hiring professional translation services and completing documents within tight deadlines.
Challenges associated with document translation
Downsides of Document Translation

Inaccuracies in Document Translation

Translation mistakes
Inaccuracies in Document Translation

Inaccuracies in document translation are the main downside of translation in general. Inaccuracies may result from the translator’s inability to utilize the appropriate words to express the message or from a lack of knowledge of grammar or terminology in the target language.

In the early days of my translating career, I remember a document translation about natural soaps. The customer intended to sell natural soaps to the United Kingdom, and the paperwork would be filed first with the Turkish Exporters Union. To cut it short, I used “soup” instead of “soap” throughout the document. After that traumatic incident, I now double-check every word I write in any document translation. I was lucky that this mistake did not cost my career as a certified translator.

There are, of course, additional reasons for inaccuracies in document translation. For example, translating into Chinese or Arabic is difficult due to the different letter symbols they use. Translation into Turkish is also difficult because we use verbs at the end of the sentence and create new words with suffixes. In the following sections, I will describe how cultural differences and technical jargon cause mistakes in document translation.

Loss of Cultural Nuances

Cultural nuances, such as idioms, wordplay, and cultural references, can make document translation difficult. These nuances can be lost or misunderstood, leading to a potential loss of meaning and effectiveness in conveying the intended message.

Translating Idioms

Translating idioms is a complex task due to their unique meanings and cultural context. These expressions, which differ from literal interpretations, can cause confusion or a loss of meaning. Translators must find equivalent idiomatic expressions in the target language, requiring linguistic expertise and a deep understanding of the culture and context.

Idioms can vary greatly between languages, making it difficult to find direct equivalents. Translators may resort to paraphrasing or similar expressions, but this can also diminish the original idiom’s impact on the document translation. Here are some idioms in English that should be translated differently into Turkish (source: Oxford Dictionary):

  • The best thing since sliced bread (in Turkish: şimdiye kadar görülenlerin en iyisi)
  • To hear something straight from the horse’s mouth (in Turkish: Bir şeyi yetkili ağızdan veya ilk ağızdan duymak)
  • No use crying over spilt milk (in Turkish: Son pişmanlık fayda etmez)
  • Take it with a pinch of salt (in Turkish: ihtiyatla yaklaşmak)
  • Let sleeping dogs lie (in Turkish: kurcalamamak)
  • It costs an arm and a leg (in Turkish: servete mal olmak)

Humor and Tone In Document Translation

Translating humor and tone in documents can be challenging due to cultural context and linguistic nuances. Humor, such as jokes and sarcasm, may not have direct equivalents in the target language, affecting the impact of the document. Tone is also important in document translation because different languages have distinct tones, and what sounds nice in one language may sound formal or nasty in another. Careful thought and customization are required to ensure that the intended message is effectively communicated.

Cultural References in Document Translation

Translating cultural references, such as historical events or local customs, can be challenging due to the context and significance of these references. Translating these documents directly into another language in any document translation may not capture the same impact or the richness of cultural traditions. To address this, translators can provide explanations or footnotes in the translated document, offering additional context and background information while maintaining the authenticity of the original text.

Technical Terminology in Technical Translation

Translating technical terms can be challenging due to varying specifications and categorization in different languages. To ensure clarity, translators can adapt the terminology by finding equivalent terms or creating new ones. They may also provide explanations or definitions for unfamiliar terms. Technical terminology might also differ from one region to the next; thus, translators must be aware of these differences to ensure accuracy and relevancy.

Related to this section, you can visit our “Technical Translation from English to Turkish” under General Translation Services.

Increased Costs and Time in Document Translation

Document translation is a complex and time-consuming process, often resulting in increased costs and time. This is especially true for large volumes of content or specialized documents that require the expertise of professional translators or subject-matter experts.

Professional translation services can significantly increase the overall cost of document translation, especially for businesses with frequent translation needs. Furthermore, higher rates are applied for urgent or specialized translations since they require additional resources, such as hiring more translators or working overtime.

Despite the increased costs, purchasing professional translation services from reliable agencies like Pelotek sourcing agent, can have significant benefits, such as ensuring accurate and culturally appropriate translations and maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the original document.

Recommendations for Reading

If you are preparing to submit a translation to the US Immigration Office, you may read “USCIS-approved translators from Turkey.” If you are an academic working with iThenticate reports, you may be interested in my technique to lower the Turnitin score from 32 to 9.

My next post is a case study on Turkish metal jewelry titled “Sourcing Turkish Zamak Jewelry for $160.”

FAQ on Downsides of Document Translation

Translation errors can occur due to language complexities, cultural differences, and technical jargon, leading to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Translating documents may result in the loss of cultural nuances, idioms, and wordplay, which can impact the overall meaning and effectiveness of the message.

Translating technical terms can be complex, as certain concepts may not have direct equivalents in the target language, requiring adaptation or explanation.

Document translation can be costly and time-consuming, especially for large volumes or specialized content that requires the involvement of professional translators or subject matter experts.

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