literary, cultural, academic, and commercial texts
Personal approachThe aims of good translationCommon misconceptions about translation
What is the target group for the translation? Is it different from that of the original text? Are the readers British, American or international? What is the author's attitude to his chosen style? Should the text be entirely anglicised or should the Dutch cultural background be retained?
The answers to these questions can make the difference between a good translation and a poor one. They can only be answered through personal contact between the translator and the client - preferably the author. This contact is central to my approach. I am happy to take the extra time to explain and comment on my translation choices. I am always ready to do extra research to check a particular usage, or track down technical information, or trace a culturally determined language difference. I like to take the author's personal preferences and priorities into account.
The aims of good translation: accurate, natural and communicative
Common misconceptions about translation
- Both the meaning and the intention of the source text are reproduced as precisely as possible.
- The language use in English is natural and suitable to the kind of text being translated. Where necessary sentences are reformulated to preserve the original intention and prevent the language from retaining a Dutch 'flavour'.
- The intention of the text is communicated in a way that is easy to understand for the reader in question.
- The resulting text is thorough and complete, consistent in content and writing style, and adheres to house-style.
'There are sentences in the translation that seem entirely different from the original. There are also terms used in the English version that look nothing like the Dutch ones. The text has been too freely translated.'
Not necessarily. You should be more suspicious if it looks just like the Dutch version. Sometimes to translate accurately from the source language you have to formulate ideas very differently in the target language. This is true both for idiomatic expressions and technical terms. Furthermore, you have to take cultural differences into account, which might also require adaptations in the language. Ultimately it is not the words but the intentions and effects of the text that must be accurately translated.
'Some words have been translated in two or three different ways. The translation isn't consistent.'
There are indeed many words that require different translations depending on the exact context. A simple example is the word 'onderzoek': research, study, examination, investigation. However, a word may also be translated in different ways due to more complex considerations of context and style.