4 Common Translation Mistakes to Avoid - Quynh Huong Center for Foreign Language Translation & Education

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17 Nov 2020

4 Common Translation Mistakes to Avoid




With the influx of machine translation these days, it’s easy to forget the complexity of document translation. As a result, some people think that it’s not worth investing in translation services. However, this method of automated translating often does not guarantee accuracy and preciseness. With that, it’s inevitable to spot and avoid these common translation mistakes for both machine and human translation:

Word-for-Word Translation

It’s crucial to know that every language consists of different syntax and sentence structure. Therefore, if you translate a sentence word-for-word, it will likely not retain its essence and meaning. Or, you may even end up with a translation that makes no sense to a native speaker. This is a major mistake because it removes the purpose of why you’re translating a text in the first place.

Furthermore, mistakes in intent interpretation equate to a technically incorrect translation. In turn, this may result in huge implications and misunderstandings, especially in legal and medical translations. It is the reason why translation requires an excellent command of the source language and the target language. It includes an excellent linguistic understanding when it comes to phraseology and the etymology of terminologies.

Not Considering Tone and Style

Another common mistake in translation is not taking note of the tone and style of the source text. Without considering these elements, the translation may result in a misinterpretation. For example, the words used in translating literary texts such as poems and proses would differ in what you’ll use in a news article. In the same way, the writing style and how you phrase the words would also vary.

And so, aside from the accuracy of content translation, it’s also vital to mind the writing tone and style. This way, you can assure that the document’s intent is being conveyed to the audience accurately.

Not Being Proficient in the Field of the Content Being Translated

There is more to translation than being able to speak two different languages. It doesn’t instantly quality a person to become a translator. Especially for translations involving technical or scientific translations, it’s not enough to only know how to speak a language. You have to look for a knowledgeable translator in the field or industry of the content you want to translate.

In other words, quality translation also requires experience and specialized skills. For instance, some translators specialize in specific fields, such as marketing, legal, or medical translation.

Ignoring Colloquial, Numerical, and Phrase Nuances

Another common mistake in translation is not keeping in mind that languages continuously evolve. There are constantly new words and slangs that a translator must learn to keep up with the language’s trends. Moreover, some words may come across as offensive in other languages if used in the wrong context.

It’s also important to note that different countries have different numerical formats of dates, times, metric systems, etc. Learning these nuances helps ensure an accurate interpretation of the source text to the target language.

Always remember that mistranslation can result in severe consequences. Being aware of the common translation mistakes is a helpful step in avoiding them in the future.

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