Level of Details in German Translations

When approaching any new German translations, making the right assessments and decisions can have a profound impact on the quality of the end result. A competent translator begins by carefully reading the source material, examining it for important information, cultural cues, language issues, and many other subtle factors that could influence the outcome of the final translated document. From here, the translator must formulate a game plan for translating the work in question. This is a very important step in the translation process, as any stumbling blocks, errors, or snags later on could cause the translator to have to start over with an entirely new method of approach. This is why it is important to formulate a plan for dealing with each individual document when beginning any new German translations.

Planning German Translations

When planning German translations, a translator must decide which pieces of information from the source text are necessary for a reader to understand its full meaning, as well as how they can be incorporated into the target document. This includes deciding on the level of detail that the translator wishes to capture in the target text. If the translator believes that the message can be simplified, he or she might engage in what is known as gist translation, in which the linguistic and cultural subtleties, as well everything but the most essential informational details in German translation, are left out of the target text. This can be done for a number of different reasons, but the most common one is limited space or time in which to convey the same meaning. In cases like these, the German translations produced are usually much shorter than the source texts.

Exegetic Translation

Conversely, some texts require exegetic translation, in which the translator elaborates or expands upon the details in German translation that are provided in the original text. This, too, can be done for a variety of different reasons. One of the most common is that a cultural reference, allusion, or idiom, which can be easily understood by speakers of the source language, would be completely unintelligible to readers or speakers of the target language without further explanation or interpretation. Here, the translators apply their own judgment, cultural knowledge, and experience in order to produce German translations that can bridge cultural divides. The downside of applying this type of translation is that the target text can quickly become lengthy and cumbersome.

In most cases, both gist translation and exegetic translation are used alongside and in addition to one another. A German translator cannot produce a word for word translation without losing meaning, and so must choose to simplify or expand the text in order to convey the appropriate information effectively. Savvy translators realize this, and apply what they know of the cultures and languages that they are working with in order to produce a target text that covers the necessary aspects of the source material without oversimplifying or resorting to verbosity.

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