Direct translation

What is it?

Direct translation is perhaps the most common pitfall among translators and often happens when a translator is fatigued or in a rush. For example, when the source language is mirrored, sometimes word for word, into the target language. If a text is translated like this, although each word may be translated correctly, the overall meaning of the original text is, quite literally, “lost in translation”.

Mistakes we see

Based on our experience with direct translation, these are the mistakes that we see:
  • Preserving the same word order or phrasing of the source text
  • Using the same punctuation placement
  • Not rewriting sentences that just don’t work
  • Losing the sense of the original text by using the exact same words, idioms, verb tenses, etc. of the source language

Getting it right

At Copypanthers, we believe that when the customer buys translation, they don’t want translation, they want communication. What they want is a text that communicates their desired message to their intended audience – they want “100% localisation”. Follow these points to avoid direct translation:
  • Change the word order and reorganise phrases. Sometimes it’s necessary to split or combine sentences.
  • Brush up on the rules for punctuation. Knowing the minutiae can be a challenge even for a native professional.
  • Get the number formatting right. This may be tedious, but is a must.
  • Rewrite sentences when necessary to preserve the intent of the source text.
  • If a sentence just doesn’t work in the target language, use your language skills to rewrite the phrase and breathe new life into the target text.

Other helpful links:

Visit our Resources Portal to learn more about translation and SEO content writing!

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