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3 Different Modes of Translation: Conversational, Literary and Slang

by Chad Richardson

April 30, 2019


What happens when you try to translate a document but you come up with several different options? There is more than one right way of translating something. Language is not like math where there is only one right answer. Many answers could be right, depending on the context in which the translation is being used. And different answers could be right in different contexts.

For example, if you’re translating for marketing purposes, you might use a more conversational translation whereas if you’re translating a business document, you might use more formal sentence constructions. Here are some of the different ways of translating a document:

  1. Conversational Translation: What does it mean to translate something in a conversational way? Well, when people talk, they generally don’t use very big words or complex sentence constructions. A conversational translation would be loose and easy to understand. This type of translation is generally fine for many purposes because it conveys the meaning in language which is easily understood.
  2. Literary Translation: If you’re translating a book, a poem, letters by well-known personalities or something similar, you might have to use a more literary form. In general, if the original is written in a literary way, then the translation will also be more literary. You might have to use a wider vocabulary and more complex sentence structures, provided the original is also written in this way and the language you’re translating into has similar sentence structures.
  3. Translating Slang: Sometimes, when you’re translating a business slogan, you might have to use slang. If the original slogan is written in slang, then you might need to find a piece of slang in the destination language that corresponds to the original. This is actually pretty hard to do because slang words have very specific meanings and subtexts. The subculture from which they arise may not exist in the country where the destination language is spoken. So if you can’t find a piece of slang that corresponds exactly or even roughly to the original, it’s best to go with a conversational translation.

Contact us to learn more about different modes of translation.

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