Do you know the basic rules of translation in top languages?

Check out the best translation tips.

Translation is an art. Each language has its own peculiarities and not always the result of a translation is the word imagined, as in the case of false cognates, for example. However, knowing the basic rules of translation can be really helpful.

Some of them only apply to one language, while others can be used for different languages. However, knowing these rules will help you understand how to proceed when translating from one language to another.

Learning these tips will help you deal with different languages and avoid the most common mistakes and confusions surrounding language services.

What are the basic rules of translation in any language?

The following tips can be useful in the translation of any language:

Avoid translating first names

If you find a proper name in a document, be it from a person, company or institution, avoid translating it because it can make the text lose its meaning.

There are some exceptions, such as when translating “Università degli Studi di Trieste”, for example, you can write the translation in parentheses after the first time the original name appears in the text, “(University of Trieste)” in this case.

As for the names of people, these should be kept as they appear in the original text.

Beware of false cognates

For those who do not speak the language so fluently, “push” in English can sound “puxe” (pull) in Portuguese. “Apellido”, in Spanish, sounds “apelido” (nickname) in Portuguese and “die Zigarre” in German may sound “cigarro” in Portuguese or “cigarette” in English.

Being aware of false cognates are among the basic rules of translation in any language. Inferring the meaning of a foreign word based on the knowledge you have of your native language can confuse things.

Always have tools and materials to help you translate and avoid this classic trap that has been around for some time.

Not every word has a literal translation

It may be weird to think that not all words can be translated literally, but this is true. Some terms and expressions cannot be translated using only a few words and sometimes need to be accompanied by a long and detailed explanation.

For example, the French expression “rêve à deux” describes the dream of a passionate couple planning their future together, while the Russian expression “pochemuchka” describes a person who asks a lot of questions.

Nevertheless, the need to include an explanation for certain terms is common to all languages. Some words in Portuguese, such as “cafuné”, “xodó” and “saudade” (although this last word represents a great doubt among Portuguese linguists) do not have a literal translation either, and this is a basic rule in translation.

And what about the rules for translating the main languages?

In the case of the most common languages, the following rules are important:

English / Portuguese

– Exchange the noun / adjective order in a sentence (“camiseta vermelha” > “red shirt”, “carro rápido” > “fast car”).

– Phrasal verbs change the meaning of the verb with the addition of a preposition, adverb or words of other grammatical class (“drop” > “derrubar”, “drop by” > “visitar sem hora marcada”, “find” > “encontrar”, “find out” > “descobrir”).

-Different verb conjugation (“eu amo”, “tu amas”, “ele ama”, “nós amamos”, “vós amais”, “eles amam” > “I love”, “you love”, “he loves”, “we love”, “you love”, “they love”).

Spanish / Portuguese

– Conjugation is similar to Portuguese (“eu falo”, “tu falas”, “ele fala”, “nós falamos”, “vós falais”, “eles falam” > “yo hablo”, “tú hablas”, “usted habla”, “nosotros hablamos”, “vosotros habláis”, “ustedes hablan”).

– Some words have a different genre compared to Portuguese (for example, instead of “o leite”, the correct one in Spanish is “la leche”, which would be “a leite” if it were translated literally into Portuguese).

– Unstressed oblique pronouns are not separated by hyphen (“desculpe-me” > “discúlpeme”, “conhecê-lo” > “conocerle”).

– In Portuguese, cardinal numbers are written in one single word up to the number 20 (“cinco”, “dez”, “quinze”, “dezoito”, “vinte”), while in Spanish this happens up to the number 30 (“veintiuno”, “veintiséis”, “veintinueve”).

German / Portuguese

– Composite words are written without spaces (“road traffic licensing standard” > “Straßenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung”, “tax benefits reduction act” > “Steuervergünstigungsabbaugesetz”, for example).

– When there is more than one verb in the sentence, elements are positioned differently from other languages (“você quer aprender a falar alemão?” > “Willst du Deutsch sprechen lernen?”, which would literally sound like “quer você alemão falar aprender?” (“Want you speak learn German?”).

– The genre of some words also change in relation to Portuguese (“a mesa” > “der Tisch”, which would literally mean “o mesa”, for example).

Avoid mistakes in major languages by remembering the basic rules of translation

Translating between different languages has some secrets. Each language has its own peculiarities, and this is a natural confusing factor for those who don’t speak the language fluently.

Even professional translators use translation tools to make their jobs easier, and avoid mistakes and confusion. This helps them translate faster with the necessary level of attention.

It is important to note that basic rules of translation exist in all languages, but, over time, they become natural. In Portuguese, for example, conjugating verbs is very complex, especially compared to languages like English, but speakers get used to it.

German, on the other hand, has very long words. “Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenswitwe”, for example, means “widow of a captain of a ship of a Danube company”, but understanding this gets easier when you realize this word is composed of several other smaller words.

Translation traps will always exist and may be a problem for those who are not aware of them. Professional translators must be deeply familiarized with their language pair to perform effectively.

Therefore, whenever you need a professional service, work with an experienced and qualified translation agency. Therefore, you can be sure the team of translators is aware not only of the basic rules of translation, but also of complex rules, and this becomes a distinguished characteristic for a high-quality service.

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