How to Handle Tricky Translations

January 10th, 2016
How to Handle Tricky Translations | One Hour Translation

Many times, translators come face-to-face with projects that have enormous intercultural differences; translations that require the translator to magically arrive at some ingenious solution to the problem.

Many times, translators come face-to-face with projects that have enormous intercultural differences; translations that require the translator to magically arrive at some ingenious solution to the problem.

The Solutions

One solution for these types of problems is for translators to tweak the message in the content to arrive at an appropriate final result, but for reasons of fidelity this solution will generally be frowned upon. The obvious alternative is to communicate with the client, and to clarify with the client that they do actually require that particular text to be translated.

Problematic Documents

This can occur when translating Letters of Recommendation, and certain Resume s and CVs. These types of documents exhibit huge differences from country to country, especially within the United States when compared to other countries. Translators and clients alike must be careful with projects like these, with both the information included and the manner in which this information is presented. 

Protecting Personal Information

It’s quite common for CVs written outside the United States to be very inclusive of sensitive personal data, such as nationality, date of birth, ID number, and so on; whereas this type of information is generally not included in the United States. In the United States, in fact, it’s quite rare for clients to use full-length CVs, and clients must remember this fact when seeking employment in the United days and trying to get their documents translated.

The Danger of Literal Translations with Letters of Recommendation

Another problem area can be Letters of Recommendation, because literal translations can often prove disastrous for the person that’s supposedly being praised. We’ve seen examples of Letters of Recommendation that have been translated from Chinese into English which highlight important cultural differences: what might sound like praise in Chinese culture can certainly come across in a wrong way in English. The wording chosen and the areas of attention can result in having the completely opposite effect of what was intended, so, in some cases, it’s advisable to have the client obtain new Letters of Recommendation suitable for translation, thus improving their chances of future employment.