Compensation in German Translation

Compensation in German translation refers to an instance in which a translator must make a choice between a direct translation of a source text that will lose meaning in the exchange and a translation that merely reflects the source text, but will retain more of the original intent or meaning. This type of situation frequently occurs in literary texts, but can also appear in advertisements, promotional materials, and other types of unofficial documents. In order to apply this principle in a translation, a translator must actively evaluate his or her translation options and decide which one will retain more of the source material’s meaning. Using compensation in German translation allows the translators to bridge the cultural and linguistic divide between source and target texts without corrupting the original author’s intentions.

Specific Uses

Translators apply compensation in German translation to a very specific type of document. This technique is not applied in the case of legal, business, specialty, or technical documents very frequently, because there is often a one-to-one correspondence between the terms in one language and those that are accepdiv in another. This is especially true today, when global standardization in many industries and fields is commonplace. However, in literary texts, translators are more likely to encounter scenarios where direct translation is either impossible or harmful to the target document because it damages the meaning of the source. In these instances, these professional translators can choose a different translation, one that loses less of the original author’s meaning. The translators must be able to determine precisely which elements of the original will be lost using each of their potential solutions, assess how it will impact the meaning of the original, and choose the one that distorts the source text least. Compensation in German translation can be a useful tool for translators working on creative texts, where the preservation of tone, subtext, and other literary elements is important.

The Downside

The downside of applying compensation in German translation is that it will always involve sacrificing one or more elements of the source text in order to preserve meaning in the target text. For instance, in the case of poetry, certain literary devices, such as alliteration or rhyme, cannot be rendered exactly in the target text as they were in the source material. The translator must invent new wordings, reinventing the sentence structure, refitting and rephrasing the original text. When a translator is faced with a difficult decision in the course of a project, this technique allows him or her to compromise, and, hopefully, to prevent more serious issues that could crop up later.

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