The importance of context within translation

The importance of context within translation

Context plays an imperative role in successful translation, particularly for business and professional needs. Without context, a translator would be required to undertake laborious research to determine the original content author’s meaning and intention. In all types of website, app and marketing translation, context is vital to ensure that the professional tone of the resulting text is honoured as well as the comprehension and readability of the content. The context of any content determines how information is received and interpreted by a target audience. Context relates to the environment in which the content was written and is intended to be received and so in translation, it is important that the context of the original information is reflected in the resulting output.

 

The best translation services ensure that the original text or presentation material is translated into another language without losing any of the initial importance, meaning or comprehension. To do this, translators need to be vigilant and thorough in their understanding of their use, intention and meaning of the original content. This is achieved through a variety of contextual focuses, including the social, linguistic and individual context of the piece. Human specialist translators are therefore required in order to ensure that the context of material is thoroughly apparent in the resulting translated piece.

 

Those who rely on computerised translation tools are not afforded the same benefits as using an expert translator who is able to recognise and acknowledge the in-context translation of all content. This means that when a word has multiple meanings, including nouns and verbs, the translator will honour the context and ensure that the resulting content is as understandable as the original. Machine translation does not have the ability to understand or recognise context and as such, the resulting translations of automated computer programs are often incoherent and senseless.

 

It is important to recognise that in all languages, one word may have multiple meanings and so the use of translation apps or none-expert translation services are likely to fall short on recognising the context of individual words. Imagine reading a story about an elderly mother and the text describing an old ‘deer’ instead of ‘dear’. The whole context of the tale is thrown and so in the same way that using the correct words in your native language is important, so too is context in translation. To lose contextualisation in business or marketing documents or presentations can be immeasurably costly to a company as it is likely to have a significant impact on the appearance, professionalism and reliability of the firm overall.

 

In order for the context of information to be reflected in translated material, the translator must fully understand the original content. A sound understanding ensures that the translation reflects the tone, importance and thought of the original piece. This means that translators need to take into account the industry in which they are working, the intended audience and how the resulting content will be used. In doing so, they can be sure that they have sound foundations which enable them to mirror the tone, relevance and formalities of the original text or verbal record.

 

Computerised translation systems are not able to effectively recognise the context of the original content and so specialist translators are required in order to ensure that the appropriate meanings, words and phrases are applied without impacting on the added tone. Some translators will specialise in specific fields or industries in order to hone their contextualising skills more thoroughly, whereas others may take longer in researching and understanding the original information before beginning their translation. In either scenario, the importance of context in translation is clear and the benefits to contextualised translation in business and marketing material are many.

Emma Tidey
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