What are the 5 Most Common Types of Translation?

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The world of translation is vast, with globalisation making it an essential part of business strategies for every sector. This variety means there are many different types of translation, each with its own unique processes and requirements. Despite these differences, they all fulfil the same purpose of facilitating communication across language barriers.

Translators typically specialise in one type of translation, allowing them to offer clients the expertise they need for the best results. The type of content they handle ranges from legal documents and commercial contracts to movies, art and poetry. Each specialism has its own jargon and specific processes to follow, with the five most common types of translation being:

● Literary Translation

● Technical Translation

● Administrative Translation

● Financial Translation

● Legal Translation

Let’s take a look at the challenges and requirements for each type of translation.

Literary Translation

As the name suggests, literary translation is the act of translating literary works, such as plays, novels and poems. The main challenge with these types of texts is that you need to translate the meaning while also considering the author’s unique literary style.

Stylistic devices are one of the most important characteristics of literary texts. They can be found in everything from rhythm and meter to word choices, imagery and the innate balance of the sentences. Then there are also puns, humor and rhyme to contend with. These all use the source language in a specific way, and often there is no direct equivalence between the source and target languages. 

This means that translators often need to get creative so that they can recreate the same effect that the original text had on its readers. Other challenges include nuances, such as cultural sensibilities, connotations and emotions, along with the social, historical and political context of the text. These nuances are especially hard to convey and might also be considered untranslatable.

Every author has a unique literary style which is reflected in their writing, with each sentence and paragraph giving the reader a sense of their personality, beliefs and emotions. Since style is such an integral part of these types of texts, translations should try to emulate the originals. This means that literary translators must master literary techniques in both languages if they are to produce an ideal version of a foreign masterpiece.

Technical Translation

Technical documents are necessary for companies to comply with local and international standards. In the era of globalisation, technical translation applies to a wide variety of text types including patents, manuals, user guides, tender documents, catalogues, technical drawings and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

This broad range of text types means that technical translation is needed in almost every industry, from engineering and construction to life sciences and pharmaceuticals. It is this variety of subject domains is that makes technical translation especially challenging, since each comes with its own specialist jargon. Translators also need an in-depth understanding of how technical texts are written, their nature and their legal requirements.

A great technical translator not only knows the technical terminology but also understands specific subject and industry jargon. This allows them to produce a translation that clearly conveys the correct message by making the right word choices.

Administrative Translation

The administrative department oversees the day-to-day workings of a business, and as such, administrative translation plays a crucial role in management. This covers a broad scope of documents relating to business processes and daily activities, including contracts, newsletters, invoices and letters.

Organisations usually need this type of translation when looking to establish or maintain their global presence. It allows them to break down language barriers within the global economy, increasing their opportunities to grow and embracing a multi-cultural workforce. This ensures that business partners, investors and employees are all on the same page, creating clear channels of communication for a better functioning business.

Financial Translation

Financial translation is crucial in today’s global marketplace and holds great importance for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. It helps them expand access to their services and build trust among customers while making sure they comply with international regulations.

As financial companies move into developing markets, the demand for high-quality financial translation increases. From annual and tax reports to profit and loss statements and company accounts, this sector involves a range of documents requiring versatile language specialists with industry-specific skills.

These financial documents are highly regulated, and as such, translators must be familiar with local laws and regulations. That way, they can understand the differences between the source and target documents, ensuring that the target text complies with target market rules.

The financial industry also goes hand in hand with technology and innovation, meaning that new financial instruments and innovative concepts come to market almost every day. As such, many new buzzwords are being added to an already overwhelming glossary of specific terms and phrases. This means that translators need to stay on top of industry developments, constantly learning new terms in both their native and secondary languages.

Legal Translation

Legal translation is one of the more complicated types of professional translation and refers to the translation of any legal documents. Examples include contracts, company or government proposals, court transcripts, service-level agreements (SLAs), laws, witness statements, notarised documents and many more.

As you expand into new international markets, you need to ensure that your legal documents are understood, respected and legally binding for all audiences. As such, the translator must understand the political, legal and socio-cultural context of a legal text. This will allow them to translate it in a way that anyone from different cultural, political and social backgrounds can readily understand.

Legal documents must be translated accurately while also following the writing norms of the target language. Only a translation agency that understands both the source and target cultures can produce a good legal translation. However, the slightest miswording can have disastrous consequences. As such, even translation specialists will seek professional legal help to make certain that the target text offers the same legal protection as the original.

Other types of translation

Translation services are the backbone of the international community and are constantly evolving to better serve our global needs. Here are some other translation types that are also quite common:

● Judicial Translation

Website Translation

● Medical Translation

Life Sciences Translation (Pharmaceutical / Medical Devices / Clinical Research and Trials Translation)

Patent Translation

Sports Betting Translation

NGOs & IGOs Translation

Government & Public Sector Translation

Marketing & Advertising Translation Service

● Commercial Translation

Other industries that benefit from translation services

Thanks to the rapid progress of digital technology and ease of travel, the world has developed into one big global community. By using translation services and providing information in multiple languages, companies can continue to grow and tap into this global audience. As such, industries of all shapes and sizes can benefit from translation services, especially the following industries:

● Finance & Banking

● Automotive

● Marketing & PR

● Mechanical Engineering

● Medical & Pharmaceutical

● Travel & Tourism

● Legal

● Ecommerce & Trade

● Technology

● Science

● Aerospace & Defence

● Gaming

● Art & Entertainment

When translating documents, it is important to remember that translation types differ from translation services, which include machine translation, machine translation post-editing and human translation. The type of service you need will depend on the translation type, as well as how you want to use your translation, local regulations and your target audience.

If you want to learn more about the translation services we offer and what would be best for the type of translation you need, reach out to our friendly team. We would be more than happy to answer any of your questions and help you choose the right services for your project!

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