Monday, March 22, 2010

Meaning of Translation

Translation is, above all, an activity that aims at conveying meaning or meanings of a given-linguistic discourse from one language to another, rather than the words or grammatical structures of the original. The meaning of a given word or set of words is best understood as the contribution that word or phrase can make to the meaning or function of the whole sentence or linguistic utterance where that word or phrase occurs. The meaning of a given word is governed not only by the external object or idea that particular word is supposed to refer to, but also by the use of that particular word or phrase in a particular way, in a particular context, and to a particular effect.

Translation requires a high standard of knowledge of a language and a meticulous approach to words and processing text. Many specialise in specific fields such as legal or medical texts. Translators also usually only translate into their native language. A translator would need a high degree of fluency to translate out of their native language, as no matter how long you’ve lived in a country, there will always be forms of the language you don’t know.

Use of Dictionary

As a language learner you should never be far from a good dictionary. Learn how to use it properly and you will enrich your language skills. Besides using your dictionary as a quick reference book for words you’re not sure about, use it as a source of increasing your knowledge of how your new language works. This doesn’t mean you need to read it from cover to cover. However you should understand how your bi-lingual dictionary works.

Familiarise yourself with the list of abbreviations usually found at the front of the dictionary. You should also find grammar tips, verb tables, cultural notes, pronunciation tips, numbers, weights and measures and times and dates. Knowing how to find these quickly can be very useful to the language learner.

In the middle of a good language dictionary there is often a section on common language phrases. This will be split into categories such as: job applications, commercial correspondence, opinions, likes and dislikes, the telephone and e-mail. Use this section to improve your language skills. Many people don’t even know it’s there!

Difficulties with translation

Despite having the support of a good dictionary, it’s always a good idea to try and ‘stretch’ your language skills. When you come across a word you don’t know don’t automatically turn to the dictionary. By all means use it as a back up to check words, but first of all try and get the meaning of the word.

Look at the whole context of the paragraph and see if it gives you any clues. Consider the tense of the word. It may be a familiar verb in a tense you don’t recognise. Try and take a step back and look at the meaning of the text you are trying to translate, to see if the unfamiliar words fall into place. This method doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s much more satisfying then turning the pages of a dictionary.

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