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What Makes a Good Translation Good?

Translators - AdAstraTranslates - Translation - The more you know - Food for thought

A good translation speaks to the target audience, conveying not just the original meaning but also its nuances. A translation must read like someone from that country or culture wrote it! 

An excellent translation will make you forget that what you’re reading is actually in a language other than your own. 

For some people, this literary quality is one of the things they love most about translated fiction: it takes them deep into another world and makes them feel like they belong there. In this piece we’ll explore that feeling of reading something from across the globe and it still hitting just as it was intended to. So we ask what exactly makes a good translation good? 

Dive in to find out! 

Ad Astra Coworker explains what makes a good translation good

Qualities of a good translation  

We’ll explore some of the key indicates that your translation is a good one!  

  1. Flow and cadence. 

A good translation must flow well. What do we mean by that? Part of this is the literary quality we discussed in our intro. It means to convey the original writer’s voice and style through the translator’s language and word choices.  

Another part of it is conciseness: the translator should delete any unnecessary words. Basically those that add no information to what’s already there, in order to help the reader keep up with the pace and rhythm of the story. Ad Astra Blog Young Freelancer Translator

  1. Clarity

A good translation should be understandable even to someone unfamiliar with the original text. The word choices, sentence structure, and punctuation should not just convey the meaning of what’s already there but also provide new insight into that meaning or give it shade or tone.  

For example: “While he was sitting in the park with his family, looking for mushrooms, he found a red one.” If a reader knows Japanese and knows in advance that “furikake” is an essential Japanese condiment used for dipping seafood, they will understand why this sentence ends with a description of the condiment and not with “a red one”. 

  1. Accuracy and precision

A good translation should be accurate. Literally true to the original! 

Not just that, it should not gloss over any problematic areas: from historical or cultural inaccuracies to grammar and spelling errors. For example, the translator’s job should be to make sure that a sentence about two children in a park playing with a red mushroom is as accurate as possible in Japanese and English. 

Accuracy and precision are what make translations much easier to go through than original texts. Ad Astra has qualified translators for translation Services

  1. Expanding the target language 

A good translation must not limit the vocabulary of the language in which it’s written. On the contrary, a good translation should, in fact, expand that vocabulary and make it more useful for everyday use, as well as provide an opportunity for native speakers to understand foreign texts better.  

In other words, a good translation should be readable and enjoyable for anyone who speaks the target language. The word choice, sentence structure, and punctuation should be simple without sacrificing any linguistic nuances or beauty of expression. It can be a challenge with translated fiction, but it can also turn it into a truly absorbing experience. 

  1. Sourcing the original text 

A good translation must be truly founded on the actual text. In other words, a good translation should not just translate something without knowing where it came from, but rather it should be derived from the original text using the same principles and rules of that language to do so. This is how you truly find meaning for meaning. 

To understand the approach a translator uses concerning that language, we need to look at their background in that particular language. Someone who has studied linguistics and foreign languages and who has published texts can analyze a text better (and more accurately) than someone who doesn’t know how to read or speak a foreign language. Team of Qualified Ad Astra Translators

  1. An emphasis on the target audience 

A good translation should be written with special attention to the audience. 

A translation can’t be perfect if it is not linked to the original text and target audience. Regardless of how good a translation is, it will never be as good as the original text because a brand new author has written that part of the story, and it’s often impossible to know what kind of character or theme they had in mind when writing it. 

As every translation requires a different approach, you should do your best to understand what kind of story you’re translating and what kind of audience you’re writing for. But the most important thing is to ensure that the translation is not just a direct translation of the original text but something new and different. 

  1. Showing respect for the original text 

A good translation should respect the integrity of the original text and never change it, even if it has several mistakes.  

If you need to change something, you should do so with care and only in a way that will not change anything else. That’s because all translations are imperfect and never completely accurate. There’s no such thing as a perfect translator – one can only strive toward perfection with every new project they undertake.  

This is why you should always inspect if the translation you are working on is what the original author had in mind. This company trusts in Ad Astra Translation Services

  1. A historical view of the original text 

A good translation should be based on scholarly research of the original text. It’s important to understand that a translation is not just a verbal rendition of an original text but an independent literary work in its own right. 

If we look at translations in terms of their history, then a good translation should be as accurate as possible. The more accurate translations are, the more appealing they become to both writers and readers. This makes them more useful and impactful! 

A good translator must know enough about their target language and culture to make any necessary changes while maintaining the source language’s integrity. 

So now you know! 

A good translation should be clear, accurate, and precise.  

It should be based on the original text and use the target language, expand its vocabulary, and make it more intelligible for a wide audience. It should respect the integrity of the original text and never change it!  

A good translation should be written with the target audience in mind and a work of writings in its own right, and not just be a direct translation of the original text. Translations must respect the literary traditions, customs, and culture of both the original and target languages.  

All of these considerations are what make our translations a step above the rest!