Translation is an activity consisting of the interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language— called the source text—and the production of an unexampled, like text in another language—called the target text, or the translation.
Traditionally, translation has been a human activity, although attempts have been made to automate and computerize the translation of natural language texts—machine translation—or to use computers as an aid to translation—computer-assisted translation.
The goal of translation is to establish a relationship of equivalence between the source and the target texts (that is to state, to ensure that both texts communicate the same message), while taking into account a number of constraints. These constraints include context, the rules of grammar of the source language, its writing conventions, its idioms and the like.
There are specific rules and guidelines to a language’s grammar, but the accurate “translation” of ideas and meaning from one language to another leaves much discretion to the translator. It takes an experienced professional for accurate translation and interpretation of ideas between languages.
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The Translation Process
The translation process, whether it is for translation or interpreting, can be described simply as:
1.Decoding the meaning of the source text, and
2.Re-encoding this meaning in the target language.
To decode the meaning of a text the translator must first identify its component “translation units”, that is to say the segments of the text to be treated as a cognitive unit. A translation unit may be a word, a phrase or yet ane or more sentences.
Behind this seemingly simple procedure lies a complex cognitive operation. To decode the complete meaning of the source text, the translator must consciously and methodically interpret and analyze all of its features. This process requires thorough knowledge of the grammar, semantics, syntax, idioms and the like of the source language, as well as the culture of its speakers.
The translator needs the same in-depth knowledge to re-encode the meaning in the target language. In fact, often translators’ knowledge of the target language is more important, and needs to be deeper, than their knowledge of the source language. For this reason, most translators translate into a language of which they are native speakers.
In addition, knowledge of the subject matter being discussed is indispensable. In recent years studies in cognitive linguistics have been able to provide valuable insights into the cognitive process of translation.