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What makes a great certified translation?

By Ines Alexandre

Translation is an art and skill requiring many years of practice so that it can be mastered to a high standard. You could just simply translate each word into a foreign language, but this would not result in a good translation. Other considerations have to be taken into account in order for a comprehensive and accurate translation to be produced.

Understanding the meaning

The context of the source text is very important to consider when translating. Translating word for word is simply ineffective since all languages say things differently, for example the French phrase ‘je m’appelle Brian’ would be ‘I call myself Brian’ but in English we would say, ‘my name is Brian’. Literal translations become even more problematic with regard to idioms. Therefore, it is imperative that a translator considers and understands the meaning and how the text can be translated in a naturally flowing manner. Focus on meaning is more important than finding a word for word equivalent. According to Dana Stevens, it is beneficial to alter the source text in order to ensure that a more accessible text is produced.

Grammatical and Contextual Accuracy


Certainly, accuracy is an important feature of a good translation since following the grammatical rules of the set language is needed to ensure complete understanding and coherence. This also includes appreciating the tone being used, the writer’s style and voice and the audience the text is aimed at in order to ensure the meaning is precise and correct, and in short, a good quality translation. If both these aspects are satisfied, then fluidity is sure to be successfully achieved, making it seem as though the text has been written in the language in which it has been translated.



Culturally Appropriate

Another vital point to note with translations is cultural considerations. Evidently, cultural norms, values, beliefs and expectations are not identical in every country nor in every language. Therefore, translators must find equivalents in the cultures of the languages in order for them to make sense as well as ensuring any cultural references do not cause offence. This is especially important in certified translations.

Familiarity with Translation Software

An additional key note is proficiency in translation software, which will certainly result in a good translation. The programmes which professional translators use are called ‘CAT- Tools’ (Computer Assisted Translation). This software has a variety of functions such as its ability to check for errors, increase output and facilitate translating. Thanks to this technology, translations are smarter and quicker and therefore has aided in making certified translations better through the years.

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