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Understanding the basic types of translation

 

Globalization is making up an essential part of business strategies in every sector. This means that businesses are required to communicate cross-border with customers and with each other in order to establish the company’s expansion. Thus, translation has become necessary.

There are several methods to determine the types of translation, and based on different methods, there can be up to 51 different types of translation. For example, if divided by fields, there are medical translation, legal translation, or software translation. But if you categorize by the methods of translation, you will have human translation, machine translation, or machine translation plus human editing.

In addition, with the translation industry emerging, new types of translation are being presented as well. In this article, we will present the categories and types of translation there is in the industry.

 

In general, machine translation can provide large volume translation with fast turnaround time and cheaper cost compared to human translation, offering a really quick way for brands to translate their documents at a large scale without much overhead. However, it can’t be ignored that machine translation sometimes creates incorrect translation and patchy quality of wording. Thus, it is only suitable for large volume documents that do not require highly correct translation.

Categories and Types of translation

 

We can categorize the types of translation into 4 main categories. The first category contains types of translation divided based on technical field or subject area, including general translation; technical translation; medical translation; financial translation; legal translation, and so on. This is a useful way of classifying translation types because specialist texts in a specific field normally require translators with extensive knowledge in the field.

The second category includes types of translation divided by the use of translation or the end product, such as document translation, certification translation, software translation, subtitles translation, etc. Most of these types entail modifying or processing a finished translation in some way, as well as converting or merging it into another format.

The third category comprises types of translation divided based on the translation method employed. Nevertheless, there are 2 ways to categorize the translation methods. Thus, this category is also divided into 2 sub-groups: the practical methods that translators use to produce translations and the translation strategies defined by academia. The sub-group of practical methods includes types of translation such as machine translation, human translation, machine translation plus human editing, etc. while the sub-group of academia-identified methods consist of word-by-word translation, literal translation, semantic translation, etc.

The final category consists of 9 types of translation based on the translation technique used. This includes borrowing, transliteration, loan translation, word-for-word translation, transposition, modulation, equivalence, adaptation, and compensation.

Examples of common types of translation

General Translation

The general translation is one of the most common types of translation. It is the translation of the non-specialized text, which is the text that we can all understand without needing specialist knowledge in a specific field.

Take, for example, most business correspondence, website content, product information, non-technical reports can be considered general translation content.

The implication is that when translating this type of document, you won’t need a professional translator with specific field knowledge, just an experienced translator will do the job.

Technical Translation

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There are 2 ways to understand the definition of the term “technical translation” based on different categories. The first definition is to understand “technical translation” as the translation of any type of document that needs specialist knowledge in some area.

The second is to understand it as the translation of technical fields like manufacturing, science, or engineering. However, it excludes some fields such as legal, financial and medical, and thus has a narrower meaning.

When translating these types of documents, translators must have extended knowledge about the field and specific terminologies used in the subject. A general translator that doesn’t have the right termbase won’t be able to present a fully accurate translation.

Human Translation

Human translation, by definition, is the translation of text done by a human translator. This is the oldest form of translation, and also the most widely-used translation method. The reason why human translation remains the most used type of translation in the era of technology like today is that it still has competitive edges against machine translation.

Human translation can result in a better translation compared to machine translation and human aid machine translation. It is argued that this is likely because only humans can understand humans so only humans can convey emotions, expressions, and ideas in the text in a natural manner. Thus, human translation is the perfect choice for projects that require extra care and nuance.

Machine Translation

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Pioneered in the 1950s, machine translation is automated translation produced entirely by a software program with no human involvement. There are 3 types of machine translation, including rule-based machine translation (RBMT), statistical machine translation (SMT), and neural machine translation (NMT).

In general, machine translation can provide large volume translation with fast turnaround time and cheaper cost compared to human translation, offering a really quick way for brands to translate their documents at a large scale without much overhead. However, it can’t be ignored that machine translation sometimes creates incorrect translation and patchy quality of wording. Thus, it is only suitable for large volume documents that do not require highly correct translation.