The Challenges of Creative vs. Technical Document Translation

Translation and Transcreation in the Context of Beauty and Faithfulness

Technical translation service Golden GateYevgeny Yevtushenko is famous for the quote “translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.” On a broader scale, the quote points to two questions. Should translators try to produce text that is similar to the original version, or should they take it upon themselves to produce something different based on their interpretation of the text?

Translation is not an easy task! Professional translators acknowledge that the service they give is pegged on an idea that is not new or theirs. Their task is to translate text from one language to another. This assertion seems straightforward and easy. However, this is a common misconception that most people make.

One thing that should not be overlooked is that translation is only effective if the text reads as though it was never translated. Simply put, translation should be an attempt to accurately produce a text that does not in any way seem translated. Poor translation is when the target language does not relay the same message in the context intended in the source. Also, translation should not be used as a tool to add or clarify (like value added resellers often do to a product’s manual, collateral or website pages), but rather target text should just read as the original source intended– precisely, concisely and if possible, elegantly.

Challenge of Creative Translation

The above quote may be regarded as sexist. However, a thorough analysis of the quote in relation to translation reveals that it presents an interesting point of view and in a sense, the reality of translations. The translation industry is guided by the notion that the essence of translation is to produce a text that is faithful and fully maintains the integrity of the original. However, it is challenging to apply the same concept when dealing with creative pieces like poetry, a brand slogan, a motto, or elegant marketing copy. Hence the need for Transcreation!

Since often translators are native to the language they translate into, another question comes to mind: if the original text is not in a persons’ first language, how will the person know if a pun or something similar has been missed? It can be argued that in some cases, translators should narrow down the content that is deemed most appropriate to producing and eliciting the same feeling as the original, in complex cases. On the other hand, due to the nuances of translating one language to another, not everything can be captured the same way as the original language and 100% certainty is not always a guarantee. For example, some words in certain languages simply do not exist in others, which means a literal translation is not possible.

As a result, the production of good multilingual content can be a challenge on both sides of the process; authoring and translating. Fortunately, worthy translation services can be exceptional. The best translation service providers have factored in all the challenges presented and have adopted effective strategies aimed at making translation invisible, in the sense that the text produced will read exactly as the original in all accounts.

Technical Document Translation

The professionals, especially translators, dealing with technical document translation can bring both beauty and faithfulness to the table. Subject-matter experts are experienced and have adequate knowledge on the field and the varied languages. The years of experience, specialization and knowledge possessed have made them well equipped and capable of producing text that fully matches with what is being relayed. These factors make the professionals able to translate text without compromising on the message and context. Beauty in technical translations comes with precision, conciseness and simplicity.

Proper localization is achieved by separating the art from the science, then fusing them together after translation or transcreation is done. The process requires both left-brain and right-brain tasks! Like the Golden Gate bridge in California, translations have to be both functional and beautiful to enable bridging ideas and thoughts between languages and cultures! Companies are always advised to take time to choose the right creative and technical document translation service, which will be able to meet all their needs pertaining to translation or transcreation, while ensuring that the produced text is both a faithful and beautiful rendering of the original, regardless of the source or target languages.


10 Tips On Achieving Quality in Translation and Localization10 Tips on Achieving Quality in Translation

This whitepaper presents applicable ten tips that will help you navigate through the requirements of your creative or technical document translation projects and deliver a quality product that your international readers will thank you for. Download it for free!

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