Last year, I ever wrote a blog about how to improve readability of your English-Chinese translation. In that blog, I have introduced some approaches to improve the quality of your translation. In fact, these approaches also work when you do a Chinese-English translation. Now lets’ review such approaches and see some examples.
1) Familiarize you with terminology of the specific field.
When translating some technical materials, you may find yourselves that you cannot find the correct expression or wording for some technical terms. In such cases, you shall do some Google and dictionary searches to find the correct translation. Of course, you could get yourselves more competent in technical terms in a specific field by reading more related materials.
请不要在晚上 3 点至凌晨 1 点之间使用快速日期和星期调节功能，因为此时用于变更设置的拨针轮盘正在运作并可能因此受损。
In the sentence, you probably don’t know how to translate “拨针轮盘”, so you’d better do some Google or dictionary researches, and you will find “wheels” are usually used to express it. So the translation shall reads as follows:
The quick date and day adjustment must not be used between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m., because the wheels for the change are active during this time and may be damaged.
For another example:
How to translate “注意力”? If you translate it as “attention”, it is not quite correct. In fact, you can say “The children have longer attention span.” or “The children have improved their concentration.” Attention span means the length of time during which a person can concentrate or focus attention on a particular object or idea without diversion.
2) Avoid colloquial translation
When translating formal documents, colloquial translation shall be avoided, or your translation will sound bad and have a poor style. For example:
The equipment uses the lifting force of the oil cylinder to lift and move goods on horizontal ground.
The crane is designed to lift and move goods on the horizontal ground through the lifting movement of the cylinder.
3) Avoid word for word translation
Either for E-C translation or C-E translation, you shall avoid word for word translation as much as possible. For example:
Thorough and professional maintenance is vital preparation work for the safe operation of pallet trucks. Ignorance of regular maintenance leads to operational failure and the potential danger this brings to both staff and facilities.
Thorough and professional maintenance is a vital prerequisite for the safe operation of pallet trucks. Ignorance of regular maintenance as scheduled may lead to operational failure and potential dangers to both personnel and facilities.
4) Make your translation precise and correct.
It is very important to delver a precise and correct translation especially for UI strings. For example:
The number of days to the date when you will deliver your baby
Days to Baby
Time Length of Menstrual Cycle
Menstrual Cycle Length
The end date of pregnancy
Date Pregnancy Ended
5) Eliminate wordiness or redundancy
Similar to the above rule, this rule leads to precise translation too.
Considering the fact that the quantity of acidic beverages that have been consumed annually is up to millions of gallons, why isn’t dental erosion prevailing?
Considering the millions of gallons of acidic beverages consumed annually, why isn’t dental erosion widespread?
6) Read through your translation after finishing it.
At last but not the least, you are strongly suggested to read through your translation before you deliver it. You can spot the errors hidden in your translation and make sure your delivered translation sounds natural, professional and accurate.