Translation issues are common in the business world. If you try to translate a document from one language to another, you may find structural problems and nuances within the language that make it challenging.
While there are many tools online to help, none are as foolproof as having someone who knows the language and can accurately translate it for you. The crux of the issue is that languages are complex, enormous, and constantly evolving, so if you don’t speak and write them daily, it can be impossible to translate them.
If your business requires translation, there’s no room for error. Just ask the translation experts about the importance of sentence structure and how one word can have many meanings and the issues it causes. Here are the most common issues people face when they translate for themselves.
1. Compound Words
Putting two or three adjectives or nouns together forms a compound word. Some are easy to figure out, such as long-jump or short-stack, as they mean exactly what they say. Confusingly, some words have different meanings, such as deadline or honeymoon. You would be lost if you didn’t speak the language and know the nuances of the words, and it can lead to some embarrassing moments.
2. Structural Problems
In the English language, the adjective comes before the noun. For instance, you would say, “The brave boy crossed the street.” However, in French, the adjective comes after the noun, so you would say, “The boy bravely crossed the street.” The structural issues in the translation are complex, which is one of the most problematic issues translators face daily.
3. Words with Numerous Meanings
Another common problem is that one word can have several meanings. These words are called homographs, which further add to the confusion in self-translation. The word bat is an example.
A bat is a noun for an animal, but it can also be used as a verb, such as you bat the ball. What about the desert? It can be a place with little water and tons of sand, or it can be to leave someone behind. When words have numerous meanings, it can confuse the translator if they don’t have a mastery of the language.
Another significant issue in the translation world is that each language uses idioms or phrases that aren’t technically correct. In English, street slang is used every day, but it’s not found in any dictionary. For instance, lol means to laugh out loud.
A document from someone who speaks English might have such terms, but they might need help understanding this street slang in Japan. People interject their emotions and even humor into their writings, and it’s not always easy for a translator to recognize.
5. Missing Terms
Another major translation issue is missing terms. Some terms are omitted from a language as the items or actions don’t exist. It can be purely based on culture, such as Americans might eat fondu, but they have no clue what that is in Singapore.
Thus, they wouldn’t have a word to articulate this type of food, and the missing word is an issue in translation. When nuances like this occur, the translator must speak with the client and come up with the best way to handle the intricacies of the language.
As you can see translating a document isn’t always as easy as copying and pasting it into a website. Computers don’t know idioms and culture that’s injected into writing, so it’s always best to trust professionals for accurate translations. It can save you some embarrassing moments when you have someone with a mastery of the language assist.