Some general thoughts about translation
A language is a living organism that needs to be treated with care and a sense of responsibility. A smooth, idiomatically correct flow of the target text is the objective of the translator’s work. Each sentence of the original document first needs to be understood, then re-thought in the target language. Finding just the right idiomatic expression in the target language in each given situation is key to creating a translation that gives the appearance of an original text.
While good writing skills are imperative for any written communication effort, knowing what you are writing about is just as essential. Each new project requires studying and fully understanding the respective subject matter. You cannot translate what you don’t understand—a fact that is often ignored in the translation industry.
Translating is much more than just substituting a word in the target language for each word in the source language. That is why machines cannot do it. The logic—or the lack thereof—behind human language is totally different from the way machines (i.e. computers) work. It takes a human brain to translate it. What is more, different languages use different imagery, different grammatical principles and above all, very different idiomatic expressions.
Clarity is essential. Compensating for a lack of understanding by using vague expressions is a technique as common as it is fatal for communication.
Transcreation means freely recreating the intentions of the original text in the target language. It goes beyond traditional translation by placing greater emphasis on differences of culture, and by being less literal. Transcreation is considered by many as a preferable approach to localizing Websites and marketing copy.