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Types of text reliability

1 Literalism

The translation follows the original word for word, or as close to that ideal as

possible. The syntactic structure of the source text is painfully evident in the


2 Foreignism

The translation reads fairly fluently but has a slightly alien feel. One can tell,

reading it, that it is a translation, not an original work.

3 Fluency

The translation is so accessible and readable for the target-language reader as

to seem like an original in the target language. It never makes the reader stop

and reflect that this is in fact a translation.

4 Summary

The translation covers the main points or "gist" of the original.

5 Commentary

The translation unpacks or unfolds the hidden complexities of the original,

exploring at length implications that remain unstated or half-stated in the original.

6 Summary-commentary

The translation summarizes some passages briefly while commenting closely on

others. The passages in the original that most concern the user are unpacked; the

less important passages are summarized.

7 Adaptation

The translation recasts the original so as to have the desired impact on an

audience that is substantially different from that of the original; as when an adult

text is adapted for children, a written text is adapted for television, or an

advertising campaign designed to associate a product with sophistication uses

entirely different images of sophistication in the source and target languages.

8 Encryption

The translation recasts the original so as to hide its meaning or message from one

group while still making it accessible to another group, which possesses the key.

"creative interpretation" signals the undeniable fact that all text-processing involves

some degree of interpretation and thus some degree of creativity, and beyond that,

the translator's sense that every target language is more or less resistant to his or

her activities.

When accuracy alone is wide of the mark

(by Michael Benis)

Accuracy is essential to a good translation, but it cannot guarantee that a text

will be effective.

Writing practices vary greatly between countries for everything from technical

manuals to speeches and ads. Meaning that reader expectations also differ,

causing the clarity and effectiveness of the text to suffer if it is not rewritten to suit.

You gain significant benefits, including cost-efficiency, when this is done at the

same time as the translation. But most important of all, you can be sure the

rewriting will not take the meaning too far away from the original - as in a game

of "chinese whispers."

This naturally costs more than a "straight translation." But when you consider

that product differentiation is so often image-based in today's mature markets, it

is an investment that far outweighs the potential losses.

Few things impact on your image as much as the effectiveness of your

communications. Make sure they are in safe hands.