About Translation

Here is the Wikipedia’s definition about “translation”:

What we call “translation” is a process to communicate the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas the interpretation undoubtedly antedates the writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature.

Due to the vast demands of business documentation consequent to the Industrial Revolution that began in the mid-18th century, some translation specialties have become formalized, with dedicated schools and professional associations.

Translators always risk inappropriate spill-over of source-language idioms and usage into the target-language translations. On the other hand, spill-over have imported useful source-language calques and loanwords that have enriched the target languages. Indeed, translators have helped remarkably to shape the languages into which they have localized.

As translation is an obvious work of laboriousness, since the 1940s some engineers have sought to automate the translation (“machine-translation” as we call) or to mechanically aid the human translators (computer-assisted translation). The growth of the Internet has fostered a global-wide market for translation services and has facilitated language localization / internationalization.


There are a number of suggested translation principles:

  1. The target-language-oriented principle: readers of the target language are the most important and the author should change his expressions to make it more acceptable.
  2. The source-language-oriented principle: the author is the most important and readers should stretch out to reach the author
  3. The aesthetic-oriented principle: artistic beauty is the most important.
  4. The author-and-reader-oriented principle: both the reader and the author should be equally respected.
  5. The function-oriented principle: the translation has to fulfill the new function according to the translation initiator


The theories / principles about translation are still evolving and translators shall always bear them in mind and make their choices based on specific projects.

Other concepts / theories related to translation:

CAT (Computer Aided Translation), CAT Tools, Machine Translation vs. Human Translation, Translation Memories, Translation Quality Assurance.


How should we define the “translation”? Some people think it’s a science, others take it as an art; and yet many would consider it a craft, or rather, a skill.

“Translation” is about reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the source-language message, firstly in terms of meaning, and secondly in terms of style / feel. Translating is a linguistic practice of employing one language to realize the thoughts expressed in another exactly and completely. We may also say, translation, essentially, is the faithful representation, in one language, of what is written or said in another language. Translation is not simply a matter of seeking other words with similar meaning, but of finding appropriate ways of saying things in another language. Translating is always meaning-based, i.e. it is the transfer of meaning instead of form from the source language to the target language.



Quite often you heard of several variations of the Chinese language – Mandarin, Cantonese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, etc.

Mandarin vs. Cantonese:

Mandarin and Cantonese are two “SPOKEN STYLE/DIALECTS” of Chinese language. As an official spoken “version”, “Mandarin” is widely used in Mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore. In translation industry, “Cantonese” is mainly targeted to Hong Kong audience only.

 Simplified Chinese vs. Traditional Chinese:

Two different written forms of Chinese text, the former with less strokes and the latter featuring more complex characters. Usually speaking, you need to choose Simplified Chinese for readers in Mainland China and Singapore, Traditional Chinese for people living in Hong Kong and Taiwan, although, in most cases, Chinese people in these regions can read the both.



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