Translation Check Points

Before engaging in Spanish translation, a Spanish translator should make the effort to become acquainted with the following translation check points.

Two Kinds of Translations

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of translations, namely, surface translation and deep meaning translation. Surface translation is also known as literal or word-for-word translation, and deep meaning translation is also known as free translation. Free translation aims at capturing the idea of the source text; it does not aim at a correspondence in words.

Within these two extremes of Spanish translation there exists a wide range. The range begins with word-for-word, and moves from very literal to somewhat literal to somewhat idiomatic to idiomatic to totally free translation.

Golden Meaning

In Spanish translation, the translator must aim at the golden meaning. In other words, his or her translation should read idiomatically and should communicate the meaning of the source text in the target language in an undistorted manner.

A translator can employ word-for-word translation, but when doing so, he or she should keep the following translation check points in mind:

  • He or she must choose short sentences.

The sentences should allow a one-to-one correspondence not only at the lexical level but also at the grammatical level. This kind of correspondence is very difficult to achieve when languages are as dissimilar from each other as Spanish and English. However, this might be easier to achieve in languages that are linguistically similar to each other, such as Spanish and Portuguese.

  • The concepts or objects being translated should be simple, objective and universal in nature.

When choosing between the various degrees of literal and free translation, the translator must also pay attention to questions of aestheticism and accuracy. An ideal Spanish translation will undoubtedly be both aesthetically pleasing and accurate.

Source Text

In order to be able to judge this question impartially, the translator must pay attention to the nature of the source text – an obvious translation check point. If a source text is informative, that is, it is a scientific work, a textbook, or a business letter, the translator should strive for accuracy; if a source text is expressive, that is it is a creative work, then the translator should strive to preserve the aesthetic and emotional effects of the source text; if a source text is operative, like advertisements and political speeches that aim at persuading, then the Spanish translator should concentrate on translating the features that imply that approach.

As usual, there are exceptions to the rule. A word-for-word Spanish translation might be useful if the only purpose is to make the reader become acquainted with the words and the grammar of the source language. Such word-for-word translations are, of course, more similar to dictionaries.


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