September 4, 2015

Three New Approaches to Translation Services via the Study of Linguistics

by brenton

In translation services, it’s necessary to be aware of the study of linguistics which describes and explains the nature of human languages.  Linguistics studies many things, including what the various languages in the world have in common as well as the many ways in which they differ.  Linguistics also covers dialects and discourse and can be studied using both, formal and functional approaches.

Universality vs. Variation

Some linguists prefer to sift through languages to figure out how they are similar.  Such linguists are looking for that common root which binds human beings together, since we are said to differ from animals in our use of complicated language systems.  However, other linguists are more interested in diversity, in the ways in which people can take a language and make it their own.  This is what usually results in the development of a creole, where two languages meet and are organically combined to create something new.

It’s important for a translator to keep both, universality and variation, in mind.  You can’t assume that all languages are the same, but neither can you assume that they’re completely different.  The human being is a complex animal, and one must keep in mind that it’s always possible to be surprised.

Functional vs. Formal Approaches

When it comes to linguistics, there are those who take a functional approach by theorizing that language came to be in order to facilitate communication and cooperation between human beings.  This might seem like the obvious reason for the development of language, but there are those who believe that language merely reflects the way a human being thinks, that it came to exist as an outward expression of an inner trait.  The functional approach is more in line with cultural studies while the formal approach is more in line with biological evolution.

Obviously, both nature and nurture are important when it comes to the study of language, and, for a good translator, it’s necessary to take them both into account.  Language may reflect how people think, but it also reflects their cultural influences.

Dialects and Discourse

A dialect is a variation of a language which has not yet been given the full status of a language.  Discourse, however, refers to the usage of words in a particular way among certain groups of people who still speak the common language.  For example, people who belong to the medical fraternity use medical language which is considered part of the medical discourse.  The same goes with lawyers.

Dialects and discourses may be hard to translate, given that they aren’t all that widespread, and a translator needs to keep in mind that s/he may have to do some extra research to translate such language variations correctly.

Overall, it can be said that the study of linguistics is immensely helpful to a translator as it points out the areas where s/he must be careful and pay extra attention.  At the same time, it can also help the translator by introducing various approaches to understanding language.  Contact us to fulfill all your translation needs, and rest assured that our translators will give each document the attention it deserves.

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