Case Study on the Audience of the Target Text

A few days ago, I was assigned a project in which modification according to the client’s comments is required. A major point mentioned by the client is that the audience of this target text is guests or potential guests of their hotel and it shall be taken into consideration.

After I received the version of translation still in need of modification, I came to what the client is trying to deliver. This project is related with the operating standards of a celebrated hotel.

The initial translator treated it as sort of instruction during translation and therefore, translated those sentences with an objective statement of some standard into “shall/should” sentence pattern while actually the intended audience of the final target text is the client or the potential client of this hotel.

This file is intended for promotion of the hotel, which can attract more guests to this hotel. Obviously, the “shall/should” sentence pattern is suitable for being used in such files as operation instruction, etc. while poorly suitable for being adopted in files with promotion purpose. Let’s look at some specific examples.

Original text:

Training Certification – Each staff member will complete training certification for his/her specific job under the guidance of the departmental trainer and department head.

Initial target text:

培训证书 – 每位员工在部门培训师及部门主管的指导下获得特定工种的培训证书。

Modified target text:

培训证书 – 每位员工在部门培训师及部门主管的指导下获得特定工种的培训证书。

At first glance, these two versions of translation both seem to be acceptable. However, if we make a deeper analysis, we can recognize the subtle difference between them. In the first version, “complete training certification” is deemed as sort of mandatory requirement which shall be satisfied by each newly-recruited staff.

The whole sentence is similar to some kind of guide. In the second version, the training mode for newly-recruited staff is described in an objective manner, which well demonstrates the highly strict standard employed in the hotel to guarantee superior service.

From the perspective of this point, the second version more complies with the style used in files with promotion purposes. Consequently, the second version is more acceptable.

The following is another example.

Original text:

A manager is available should there be any loss, injury or damage.

Initial target text:


Modified target text:


Similarly, the first version is more like an instruction while the second one is solely an objective statement of a common action employed by the manager in this hotel. And the latter more complies with the style used in files with promotion purposes.

From this case, we can conclude that the intended audience of the target text shall be taken into consideration during translation. In the case mentioned above, it is the wrong judgment of the audience of the target text that incurs the negative comment of the client and additional proofreading.

Translators should figure out the potential readers of the target text before commencing the translation. In cases where the PM forgets to tell such information to us, we should actively ask them for this information to produce translation better satisfying the requirements of clients.


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