Most writers understand that the audience is everything. If you can’t get across what you’re trying to say to a particular audience, then you won’t be successful, no matter how good your writing. So if you’re a writer, it’s up to you whether you choose to write in an accessible or an inaccessible way. If you take the audience into consideration from the beginning, then you won’t have any trouble being successful. But if you choose to write in an inaccessible way, then it’s up to you to find an audience for the writing.
Translation services are meant to help people understand a piece of writing. So the translator acts as a go-between, conveying what the writer wants to say to the audience. S/he is a messenger, taking the message from the writer to the audience.
Providing translation services is a delicate affair because so many languages come from the same root but they have developed differently along the way. In the beginning, when one language started to split into two, a word may have meant the same thing in both the resultant languages. However, after the passage of many years, the meanings of words change subtly. So, you can end up with words that sound the same in two languages but have entirely different meanings. These are called false friends. Here are a few examples:
Have you ever tried to translate something for someone? If so, you might have found that the translation comes out awkward -sounding at the first try. Initially, our brain always goes for a word-for-word translation but since languages have different grammars and idioms, this usually results in something broken-sounding. Some phrases might come out accurate but others are trickier. What can a translator do to smooth over these sticky spots?
Sometimes, when providing translation services, it seems like a better idea to use the phrase exactly as it is in the source language. As a result of this, many phrases from other languages have made their way over into English. Sometimes, we get so used to using them that we don’t even realize that they’re not in English.
When we go for interviews, we take our CVs along. That’s a curriculum vitae, a phrase that is borrowed from Latin. When we want to check the authenticity of something, we ask if it is bona fide, using yet another Latin phrase. And when there is a fiasco of epic proportions, we may not even realize that the word “fiasco” is really Italian.
When you’re walking around in New York City, you’re likely to hear many different languages, from English and Spanish to French, Chinese and Hindi. Some of the people speaking these languages are tourists from different countries. They come to New York to visit the Statute of Liberty and the Empire State building. Others are immigrants who live here or second-generation immigrants who were born here but learnt the language from their parents and their parents’ friends.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s Writings About Second-Generation Immigrants
In her novel, The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri, a popular Indian-American writer, tells the story of Gogol Ganguli, a second-generation immigrant whose parents moved to the U.S. from India. Lahiri obviously draws on her own experiences because she is also a second-generation immigrant who nonetheless retains strong ties with her home country. She visits India often, either to stay in touch with extended family or for inspiration for her work.
First Languages, Second Languages et al
The works of a writer such as Lahiri don’t require translation services because she writes in English even though she has admitted that it is, technically her second language. The language she learnt first at home was Bengali. Still, it is a fact that for many people around the world, the language they first learnt at home doesn’t remain the language that they are most comfortable in. Being educated in English and exposed to mostly English speakers throughout their lives, many of those from former British colonies become more comfortable in English.
Yet, the English they speak is different from the English spoken in the U.S. or even in the U.K. They use British spellings such as “colour” and “realise” but, as time goes on and Hollywood becomes ever-present, they find it easier to understand the American accent. Plus, they also have their own slang and often include words from their native languages into English.
Translating from English into English
If you’re trying to sell products in countries such as these, you might need translation from English to English! Translating American English into English English is no mean feat. Similarly, you might need to translate into Indian English, Australian English and English spoken in various African countries. Not every writer is as easy to read as Jhumpa Lahiri whose works require no explanation. For others, you will need to take into consideration the nuances of the English spoken in that part of the world. Contact us for translations that take into account the particularities of languages spoken around the world.
Different languages have different rules. Whereas in English, non-living things are referred to as “it,” in languages such as French, they are referred to as “he” or “she” (“il” and “elle”). To someone who speaks English, it sounds odd to refer to a book as “he” but in French, this is de rigueur. A book is masculine but a television is feminine. A nail is masculine but a person’s skin is feminine.
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