Types of Translations
Two translators may be translating from the same source text and into the same receptor language and yet the results may be very different. There is not one "correct" translation of a given text. Reasons for this variation include:
- the purpose of the translation,
- the translation team itself,
- the receptor language audience for whom the translation is intended.
The results are translations that fall someplace on a continuum from literal translations to idiomatic translations. Literal translations follow very closely the grammatical and lexical forms of the source text language, whereas idiomatic translations are concerned with communicating the meaning of the source text using the natural grammatical and lexical items of the receptor language. Translations that add to the source text or change certain information for a specific affect are called unduly free.
SIL members are trained for, and committed to, the production of idiomatic translations. However, since the projects they are involved in are found in a wide variety of communication situations, and with team members with different training and skills, the results may vary.
Choosing a translation type
There are various aspects of the communication situation that may determine the choice of type of translation produced. One of the goals of the translation team is to produce a translation that will be acceptable to the receptor language audience.
- The actual receptor language forms (grammar and lexicon) are chosen with the educational level of the audience in mind, as well as their previous knowledge of the subject matter.
- A newly literate audience will find it hard to read a translation intended for a highly literate readership.
- Some audiences have a strong opinion as to the type of translation that is acceptable. They may expect a close formal equivalence and will not accept a more idiomatic translation.
The ideal of accurate, natural, and communicative is still the goal. But, in practice, this goal may be carried out with differing result by different translation teams.