Linguistic Appropriateness

Perhaps one of the most complex aspects of translation is the linguistic appropriateness of translated text. This is one of the reasons why human translation, preferably carried out by a native speaker, overrides automatic translation: translation requires adaptation. Linguistically speaking, all texts need to take the target audience into consideration and to do this, we need to adapt them to the manner in which this audience communicates. If, for example, the audience is primarily composed of adolescents, the translation should be adapted to use appropriate language for this age group.

The question of style used in the text should also be considered. While a highly technical manual with very specific terminology restricts the translator with regard to linguistic choices, marketing material, for example, provides the translator with more freedom and flexibility.

Linguistic appropriateness is closely linked to cultural appropriateness. Take for example the translation of scientific articles. English makes use of a practical and direct language and gives preference to particular structures, such as the passive voice. In Portuguese, however, more explanatory and indirect language is considered normal. Therefore, when performing such a translation, we take into account that different linguistic aspects should be used so that the text is culturally appropriate for the intended medium. For example, in equipment manuals in English, we usually start instructions with please, as in: “Please make sure you have turned on the ignition”. In Portuguese, this does not happen, and the appropriate translation of the sentence would be: “Certifique-se de ter ligado a ignição” or "Make sure you have turned on the ignition." Although the English language is economical, it tends to be more polite in cases such as this.

In addition to the issues already mentioned, we at Terralíngua take into consideration that some linguistic adjustments are made through customer choice and these must be used. Hence the importance of style guides sent by customers to meet their quality requirements in a uniform and consistent manner.

While one customer may prefer a literal translation of a title such as: "Creating a new website", another may find that replacing the gerund with a noun and adding the definite article sounds better ("The creation of a new website"). Terralíngua understands that a quality translation depends not only on the knowledge of the linguist with regard to source and target languages​​: it also depends on linguistic, cultural, stylistic and commercial appropriateness.

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