Spanish Translation Blog: Spanish Translation US » Blog Archive » Knowing How to Interpret

Knowing How to Interpret

September 5, 2008 1 Comment »

What does a person need to be able to translate? We all know the answer. Well, we’re all working on it at least: know both languages, the “source” and the “target,” have a broad vocabulary, know the grammatical rules, etc. But…what does a person need to be able to translate well?
It’s easier for any translator to translate into his native language, given that he or she can handle the forms, has a more extensive vocabulary, knows how to properly conjugate, and is generally more comfortable expressing himself in his native language. But even when someone translates only into his native language, he also needs to know the source language extremely well. It’s not enough to only know how to read the language, the translator also has to be able to INTERPRET IT CORRECTLY. And in this trade, that’s where a lot of people fail. One must be very sure of what the original text is actually saying, because everyone (hopefully) knows the difference between “beef” and “flesh”) for example (both are “carne” in Spanish), and when translating a menu this distinction becomes quite important. And the same thing happens translating into Spanish, as “lima” and “archivo” are both “file” in English, but when a Hollywood film is dubbed into Spanish and these two are confused, a prisoner’s girlfriend ends up bringing him a cake with an “archivo” inside for him to file down his cell bars.
Besides keeping in mind that there may be exceptions that we haven’t learned yet and that we should look something up if it doesn’t sound quite right, we also have to see if the word order, the sentence structure, could maybe be a bit different to give the text more sense than what we had originally thought. That can be a bit more difficult to discern.
So how does we get to that level of understanding the language well, that of interpreting the source correctly so that it can be properly worded in our language? Keeping an open mind and looking at all the possibilities seems to be the most obvious pieces of advice. But to reach that level, there is only one sure-fire method: read, read a lot, and read in a language other than your own, that which you’ve studied so exhaustively and that you enjoy so much as to have devoted yourself to translating it.

No tags for this post.

Tags: