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Types of Translation

Due to the continuing evolvement of the translation industry there are now certain terms used to define specialist translations that do not fall under a general category. This brief guide offers an explanation of some of the more common translation terms used.

Administrative translation

The translation of administrative texts. Although administrative has a very broad meaning, in terms of translation it refers to common texts used within businesses and organisations that are used in day to day management. It can also be stretched to cover texts with similar functions in government. For more information on our administrative translation, see our translation services page or contact one of our team to discuss.

Commercial translation

Commercial translation or professional business translation covers any sort of document used in the business world such as correspondence, company accounts, tender documents, reports, etc. Commercial translations require specialiast translators with knowledge of terminology used in the business world.

Computer translation

Not to be confused with CAT, computer assisted translations, which refer to translations carried out by software. Computer translation is the translation of anything to do with computers such as software, manuals, help files, apps etc.

Economic translation

Similar to commercial or business translation, economic translation is simply a more specific term used for the translation of documents relating to the field of economics. Such texts are usually a lot more academic in nature.

Financial translation

Financial translation is the translation of texts of a financial nature. Anything from banking to asset management to stocks and bonds could be covered under our financial translation service.

General translation

A general translation is the simplest of translations. A general text means that the language used is not high level and to a certain extent could be in layman's terms. There is no specific or technical terminology used. Most translations carried out fall under this category.

Legal translation

Legal translations are one of the trickiest translations known. At its simplest level it means the translation of legal documents such as statutes, contracts and treaties.

A legal translation will always need specialist attention. This is because law is culture-dependent and requires a translator with an excellent understanding of both the source and target cultures.

Most translation agencies would only ever use professional legal to undertake such work. This is because there is no real margin for error; the mistranslation of a passage in a contract could, for example, have disastrous consequences.

When translating a text within the field of law, the translator should keep the following in mind. The legal system of the source text is structured in a way that suits that culture and this is reflected in the legal language; similarly, the target text is to be read by someone who is familiar with another legal system and its language.

Literary translation

A literary translation is the translation of literature such as novels, poems, plays and poems.

The translation of literary works is considered by many one of the highest forms of translation as it involves so much more than simply translating text. A literary translator must be capable of also translating feelings, cultural nuances, humour and other subtle elements of a piece of work.

Some go as far as to say that literary translations are not really possible. In 1959 the Russian-born linguist Roman Jakobson went as far as to declare that "poetry by definition [was] untranslatable". In 1974 the American poet James Merrill wrote a poem, "Lost in Translation," which in part explores this subject.

Medical translation

A medical translation will cover anything from the medical field from the packaging of medicine to manuals for medical equipments to medical books.

Like legal translation, medical translation is specialisation where a mistranslation can have grave consequences.

Technical translation

A technical translation has a broad meaning. It usually refers to certain fields such as IT or manufacturing and deals with texts such as manuals and instructions. Technical translations are usually more expensive than general translations as they contain a high amount of terminology that only a specialist translator could deal with.