Challenges in translation

Nothing is as simple as it seems.

Cultural experiences — even in scientific and technical fields such as dentistry or dental technology — can vary from one country to another or even within a single country. Because language reflects these differences, it is not always possible to translate word for word.

Translators must explain, elucidate, fill in the blanks, and make the foreign reader feel at home with a text that does not come from his or her own culture.

Translators must strike a balance between fidelity to the source text and readability in the target language. This is not an easy task, especially when working under the constraints of time and budget.

The best translators relish the challenge challenge of transporting a point, a thought, an idea across across cultural and linguistic boundaries.

Translating something from one language that simply does not exist in the other language is one of the most demanding tasks. Laws, governments, schools, and business structures vary from country to country. Dictionaries offer solutions only for the most common terms.

But when dealing with new information and novel experiences, we may have to create a new term or leave it in the source language and include a translator’s note explaining what the term means.

Another potential pitfall, especially in technical translation, is that many translators do not get a chance to see what their text describes. There is often a good reason for this — nowadays, the object in question may not even exist in the real world, even if its manual is already being translated. In these cases, translators are effectively flying blind, and their translations will need to be revised later.