Tema 65- Traducción de textos e interpretación de discursos de distinta lengua

Tema 65- Traducción de textos e interpretación de discursos de distinta lengua


Translation is a bridge that enables communication between those communities which are separated by linguistic barriers. Nowadays between 4000 and 5000 languages are spoken in the world. These languages are a link between the members of the community, but at the same time they are a barrier which separates their members from the rest of mankind, so we can see the importance of translation in the world.

Translation is a process based on the theory that it is possible to abstract the meaning of a text from its forms and reproduce that meaning with the very different forms of a second language.

Translation, then, consists of studying the lexicon, grammatical structure, communication situation, and cultural context of the source language text, analysing it in order to determine its meaning, and then reconstructing this same meaning using the lexicon and grammatical structure which are appropriate in the receptor language and its cultural context.

The ideal translation should be:

  • Accurate: reproducing as exactly as possible the meaning of the source text.
  • Natural: using natural forms of the receptor language in a way that is appropriate to the kind of text being translated.
  • Communicative: expressing all aspects of the meaning in a way that is readily understandable to the intended audience.

The ideal translation will be accurate as to meaning and natural as to the receptor language forms used. An intended audience who is unfamiliar with the source text will readily understand it. The success of a translation is measured by how closely it measures up to these ideals.

Types of translation:

There are several types of translation

  1. Direct translation: It is the translation in which we can find a complete parallelism between the original language and the translated language. It is the translation word for word.

  1. Slanting translation: It is the translation which doesn´t keep with the original text the required parallelism to be called a translation word for word. The slanting translation is complementary to the direct translation because we apply it when it is impossible to make a translation word for word.
  1. Free translation: There are 2 types:

– One in which the sense is kept but it separates from the original in its way of expressing it.

– The other one in which the sense is kept but only in the essential things not in the small details.

  1. Interlinear translation and Yuxtalinear translation:

These designations only refer to the external disposition of translation.

Interlinear translation: Is the one in which the translated text is written below each text line so that every translated line is between 2 lines of the original text.

Yuxtalinear translation: Is the one in which the text in the original language and the text in the translated language are laid out in yuxtaposed columns, so that each line in the original language corresponds to another one in the translated language. In this type of translation the translator usually looks for a correspondence word for word.

Both the interlinear and the yuxtalinear translation are intended for bilingual editions of the translated book. If there is nothing that advises or prevents us from doing the contrary, the translator must follow the order of elements of the original text. If he does so, he will avoid possible alterations of sense and style.

Types of translation: (according to the field)

  1. Technical Translation:

Technical translation contains the translation of catalogues, manuals, technical data sheets, software etc.

  1. Legal translation:

Legal translation includes translation of law documents. These contain for example contracts, texts of a law, legal reports, documents for initial public offers or company agreements.

Legal translation is often quiet challenging because fundamental terms differ from one legal system to the other. It is sometimes even hard to find equivalents.

A qualified translator of this area is very experienced with the procedures of law (which he learned in a special training), as well as the act of translation itself. This is very important because inaccuracies in legal translation can cause fatal results.

  1. Translation on screen:

Screen translation is the translation of films and television programs. This includes subtitling (texts on the bottom of the screen) and dubbing (where you listen to the voices of native speakers instead of the voices of the actors).

The difficulty of subtitling is to keep the dialog as a genuine rendition. Subtitles must be easy to understand and readable without ruffle. The style and rhythm of speech must be kept, too. There are rules that every person doing subtitles must be aware of. Subtitles only have a certain amount of signs and are limited to two lines.

The difficulty of dubbing is the lip synchronization. Dubbing artists should bring all their emotions in their voice. Sounds, such as “Aah” and “umpf”, which arise for example when lifting a heavy object, have to be realistic as well as demonstrations.

  1. Economical translation:

Economical translation includes translation for areas such as commerce, tourism, sales and marketing.

  1. Financial translation:

These translators work for financial institutions and banks, stocks broker and security companies. Other customers are for example investment companies.
Translators of this area translate business reports, annual accounts, market analyses and stock exchange analyses as well as securities, assurance texts or conditions regarding finances.

  1. Medical translation:

Medical translations include translations for the areas such as biochemistry, forensic medicine, dentistry, medical technology and pharmaceutics.

  1. Translation of literature:

Is the translation of literary acts (novels, short stories, plays, fairy tales, poems, comics, specialised books, articles in magazines etc.) into the target language. The translation of literary acts is subject to the copyright as well as the source text.

Many people say it is hardly possible to translate some types of poetry. The reason is the difficulty of linking shape and content of the text into the target language.

The action of translation:

For both, the written translation or the interpreting, the action of translation can be divided into two parts: to understand the meaning of the source text and to transfer the meaning into the target text. This simple procedure underlies a complex, cognitive act of work.

For example: To understand the source text in his entireness the translator works methodically and analyses all the features of the text. This process requires detailed knowledge about grammar, semantics, syntax, dialects of the source languages and the culture of the performer of the source text.

The translator needs all this detailed knowledge to transfer the meaning into the target text. Actually the knowledge about the target language should be more important and more profound than the knowledge about the source language. Therefore most of the translators translate into their mother tongue.

Furthermore the knowledge about the concerning subject area is absolutely required.

In the last years linguistic studies were made and it was possible to gain insight into the action of translation. But how do you translate the right way?

There are different ways to tackle a translation. It is said: “Translate as accurate as possible and as free as possible“. That means you should transfer a source text in a way you can find crucial and important parts of the sentence and words also in the translation, the target text. Of course the translation must make sense.

The translator:

The translator first of all is a reader and every reader makes his own interpretation. This means that the translator is always subjective, but he is a special reader because he has to make the effort to try to respect other possible readings and not intervene in them. The translator must have good knowledge of his own language and the translated language, but he must also have a wide cultural background. Apart from all this, he must gather information about the topic he is going to translate. These readings referred to the previous preparation on the topic are called documentation.

Phases of translation:

The process of translation consists of 3 phases:

  1. The phase of understanding the original text.
  2. The phase of expressing the message
  3. The checking or evaluation.
  1. The phase of understanding the text is not the translation in itself, bout it is essential for the translation.
  2. The phase of expressing the message is divided in itself in several phases:

a) The reading of the text

b) The analysis of the text, that is to say, to determine the technical approach and explore some of the problems.

c) Execution of the translation and consulting books meanwhile.

  1. The checking or evaluation is also divided in itself in several phases

a) The reading of the version

b) The reading of the original text

c) Comparison between the text and the version

d) Final reading

Once we have translated the text, it is advisable to let some days go before taking it again. The first rereading will enable us to judge two things: the legibility and the comprehension of the text we have produced. So at the beginning, it is better to forget the original text.

The purpose of all translations is that the text we produce must be understood by everybody who previously hasn´t read the original text. With a translation we can approach the reader to other books, languages and cultures sometimes for pleasure and sometimes for our studies or job, which couldn´t be done without translation.


The interpreter must pay attention to the central ideas but also to the articulation of discourse, the linking of sentences, the oppositions, the tone of voice. Sometimes an insignificant conjunction can have more importance than a long member of the sentences.

The abbreviations and facial expressions, postures and gestures will be symbols of meaning, f.i: notions of exaggeration, diminution, explanation, causality and also continuation.

The mechanical simultaneity is never achieved. In fact it is never looked for because it would be ridiculous to try to follow an order word for word in sentences of different languages.

It is obvious that there is a certain gap between the speaker and the interpreter. This gap can be shown either in a delay or in an advancement. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the interpreter prefers to wait for a sentence or an idea to be completely stated to begin the translation. But this wait, although it may seem the contrary, is not going to facilitate his task. While he is repeating what has been said, the speaker goes on speaking and the interpreter must listen to the discourse that goes on to translate it afterwards.

The contrary gap is also very frequent. Sometimes we can see that the interpreter has finished to state a sentence before the speaker has, or even to find before him the right word when he is thinking about it and explaining it with a periphrasis.

Difference between translator and interpreter:

Translators normally translate written texts into the target language. They can use resources such as dictionaries and the Internet for that. The translator can use the source text all the time, which means, corrections can be done all the time.

There are different types of translators. Some specialise in areas such as technology or economy. These translators are called professional translators. When translators work for courts, they are called authorised translators. These translators translate documents such as certificates and contracts. The documents are certified and will be needed for example for a marriage of a foreigner.

Interpreters generally translate spoken texts (source language) into another language (target language). Rarely the source text is a written text. You require an interpreter to forward a message over cultural and linguistic borders.

Being an interpreter includes a lot of flexibility because you have to travel to congresses and conferences regularly.
Being a sworn interpreter, you are allowed to interpret at public authorities such as the police (examinations) or in court. Interpreters are bound to professional discretion.

Machine translation:

Translation machines work without the help of a human. They analyse the source text and produce the target text in the given language. They use the calculating capacity of the computer to analyse exactly the structure of every part of the sentence or the whole sentence (that means the source text). The structure is divided into parts, easily to be translated, and then produced into the target language with the same intention. This takes place by accessing large multilingual dictionaries and comparative texts.

Translation machines relate to any automatic translation. This could be the translation of software, pocket translators and online translators.

The concept of machine translations is very simple in comparison to professional translations. It is cheaper and faster. But: In reality the quality of the translation is terrible.

For the machines it is just too difficult to understand and combine all the vocabulary, the grammar, the context and all the graduations in the source and the target text. Although the techniques keep on developing it is a fact that machine translations will never be complete or nearly complete. Concerning translations the machine will never take over the place of a human being.

You must not forget: The translation is an imprecise science, there is a multitude of right possibilities, which are acceptable.

But there are areas, which work with few vocabulary and a simple structures. The area of weather broadcast is a good example where you can use the translations of machine


They are words which are taken from another language without being translated. When a translator uses a borrowing or loan word is to fill in a gap in the language which receives it, a gap which is usually related to a new technique or an unknown concept among the speakers of this language.

In the original text we can find a word referred to the culture of the original language or to another culture different from both cultures and so there is no equivalent to be found in the translated language.

Then the translator can try to reproduce the sense of the word with a periphrasis or with a definition, but in doing so he will hinder the translation.

Sometimes we can distinguish between borrowings and loan words. Loan words are words which are accepted just as they are in the original language without any kind of adaptation in the new language which is going to receive it. Borrowings are adapted to the new linguistic system in spelling and pronunciation. In general borrowings were previously loan words.


We apply the term dubbing to the operation of translating a spoken film from one language into another. The words stated in the original language must be substituted for words in the other language, while the original image in the film remains motionless.

In general, this kind of translation is very similar to the translation of a play because both of them are subjected to imperatives of show effectiveness, of anticipating the public reactions.

A new circumstance is introduced with the persistence of the original image: the spectator, while he listens to the translated text, is seeing the actors whose mouths go on articulating words in a different language. The translator looks for a translation as much similar as possible, but apart from this, he must also shape it with the lip movement that we are seeing on the screen.

Due to simultaneity, the translator is sometimes obliged to damage the text, to keep away from the original text so as to have a coincidence between his text and the words articulated by the characters in the film. If he does so, the translation will seem more acceptable.

As we can see, dubbing fluctuates between a translation in the strict sense and an adaptation.