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Translation - A Useful Headache

Translation - A Useful Headache

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Translation - a useful headache
Translation - a useful headache

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Published by: រ័ត្នវិសាល (Rathvisal) on Feb 06, 2012
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Translation: a useful headache From an English to Khmer experience (and vice-versa) Admittedly, I am not a translator.

Despites the fact that my English is not as good as a professional translator, my career gets me involved in translation and proofreading for quite some time. I have been doing it from English to Khmer and vice versa. The written translation is tricky. The oral translation (interpretation) is even more so. But thanks to this invaluable experience, my English improves from time to time. The below discusses about written translation. Some original versions are written, unfortunately, in a less readable manner, using either incorrect grammar or spoken language. It is a real headache to try and figure out the true message(s) a drafter wants to communicate to his prospective readers. This is particularly true when the drafter makes unnecessary assumption that his readers will probably understand everything he writes, even without explanation from his end. Even more surprisingly, his assumption is right in some occasions where people do understand the way he writes even if it is poorly written. And that is the source of the problem: understanding the original is one thing, making the translated version understandable is another. A translator or a proofreader here needs a broad range of understanding in how languages function: both the source-language(s) and the target-language(s). The above paragraph focuses on a general grasp of the main idea in one text. The next one is about areas of practice, which is more about specialized topics. For starters, it is quite useful to make a habit of noticing the vocabulary used in different areas. As an example, when buying an insurance service, you will hear the term “policy” - as in “group accident policy”. But when buying an internet service, you will hear “plan” - as in “hospitality plan”. For a legal service product, you will not encounter those terms. Most likely, legal guys will point out in details the scope of work, without labeling it as plan or policy. So what are the equivalents for those terms in the target-language (example Khmer language)? Pretty much sure that I never found ones and pretty much lucky that I do not have to translate them. Dictionary… dictionaries… It is very good to at least possess one. Though, I will never recommend relying on only one dictionary. No matter how good it is, it is strongly recommended to research more whenever the sound of the translated version does not make sense, or less understandable than it should be. Sometimes, mysterious words are found in the definition section of a book. They can also be found in online dictionaries. And as a person having experience in contracts review, I must definitely point out that some technical terms are specifically defined in those very contracts themselves. All in all, the more sources you read the better. Last but not least, the page set up and style also help. Simply put, we cannot underestimate the power of the format of our translation. If the source-language uses bold or italic, consider applying it in the target-language as well. However, it is also important to recognize that word processing programs contribute to the difficulty of retaining the same format in the target-language documents. It is relatively difficult to give identical look to both versions. Phnom Penh, 06 February 2012 THARA Rathvisal

Translation: experience 1

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