Translation Schools » Translation process » Translation problems

Translation problems

Translation problems

Translation is a challenging activity and there are few difficulties that appear during translation process so every language describes the world in different way and has its own grammar structure, grammar rules and syntax variance. During this process, the following are the most particular problems:
  • Problems of ambiguity: these originate from structural and lexical differences between languages and multiword units like idioms and collocations.

  • Problems of grammar: there are several constructions of grammar with rules that are poorly understood.

  • Problems of language: these include idiom terms and neologisms, slang difficult to understand, respect to punctuation conventions and proper name of people, organizations and places.

  • Problems of source text: These are illegible text, spell incorrectly.
It can easily be seen that languages differ from one to another in terms of many ways and not just in grammar subjects. For example, small words are hard to translate and the meaning of common words depends on context. Besides, some words are untranslatable when one wishes to remain in the same grammatical category that is why translators face up with many problems.

Another problem is that translators have a hard time to convey the same meaning to the other languages, for example: Translations of literature, poems and songs are impossible to express their same meanings in another language. So these texts need to be familiar with the two languages, translation process is not only to translate the words, but also to find ones that rhyme as well.

Keep in mind, lack of vocabulary knowledge cause certain problems for those reason translators need an in-depth knowledge of two languages to translate advanced texts and avoid using dictionary that many times make this process very boring. The last problem is that translators will encounter complex grammar structures that they must interpret correctly.

Techniques to overcome translation problems

There are certain techniques to eliminate translation problems, such as: back translation, consultation and collaboration with other people and pre-testing or piloting such as interviews.
  • Back translation: one of the most common techniques used to look for equivalents through:
    • The translation of items from the source language to the target language.
    • Independent translation of these back into the source language.
    It can be helpful to identify semantic errors in translations but in some cases back translation create new problems and spend time-consuming procedure, and it might require more than one person (or a dictionary) to achieve good results.

  • Consultation with other people: It involves discussions about the use and meaning of words with bilingual people around a table to make decisions about the best terms to use.

  • Interviews or questionnaires or any kind of tests: these are used to eliminate translation-related problems.
For many translators, combining some of the above techniques is the best and most efficient way to deal with translation problems because when using multiple methods, the weakness of one method can be supplied by the strengths of another technique.