Language focus | 13.11.2012

Translation agencies can help find the right modern words for older texts

Translation agencies don’t just work with new documents – we are sometimes asked to translate older texts too, and that raises its own questions.

For instance, if a document is fairly old, there is the issue of whether the translation should use language that was common at the time it was originally written, or that is more commonly used in the present day.

Translation agencies must make this decision based on the characteristics of the original document, and on the wishes of the client.

In a recent book by Mats Malm, professor of comparative literature at the University of Gothenburg, the author explains how modern readings of older texts differ from their original audience’s interpretation.

This can cause difficulty in modern editions – particularly if an original sense of humour must be conveyed in a way that is still appropriate for the present-day audience.

“The voice of a text is always important,” the author asserts. “Just think of all the smileys we have started using to add clarity to texts.”

While emoticons might not be appropriate in technical translations, the point is still valid – and choosing a good translation agency can make sure the voice of a text is not lost as it moves from one language to another.

Source: EurekAlert!


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