Accuracy is one of the most important principles in translation, especially when translating scientific articles. How can we understand the article correctly? Besides master the source language thoroughly, it’s also important to understand the background and knowledge of the article.
Here are some examples of mistranslation caused by misunderstanding the source language:
- Misunderstanding Words:
1) What can I do if my child has wind?
Original translation: 如果发生缠绕怎么办？
Revise translation: 如果孩子肚子胀气怎么办？
Comment: “Wind” in medicine can mean “flatulence”. If we are not sure about the meaning, we should write a query to ask the author.
Original translation: 超造粒
Revised translation: 肉芽增生
Comment: Over granulation means an over growth of skin around the stoma site that can become infected. The word was misspelled in the source article. If we do not understand, we should always ask the client.
- Misunderstanding Phrases:
Up to 22 lbs
Original translation: 體重在 22 磅以上
Revised translation: 體重為 22 磅或者以下
Comment: “up to XX” means as high as XX, but not higher than XX.
- Misunderstanding the important point of the sentence
Will the supplier be provided requirements, specifications, or statements of work for this purchase that will affect design, development and production?
Original translation: 是否為供應商提供影響設計、發展和產品的本次採購要求、規格或工作說明？
Revised translation: 為供應商提供的本次採購要求、規格或工作說明是否影響設計、發展、產品？
Comment: It seems the original translation is ok, but let’s look at this example: Will you buy food that would make you fat? Here the point is not whether you buy food or not, but whether the food you buy fatty. It works the same way in that sentence. The sentence emphasizes whether the requirements, specifications, or statements of work provided to the supplier affect the design, development and production.
It is translator’s responsibility to convey the meaning of the article to be translated into the target language as faithful as possible. Sometimes the article has some grammar problems. If we can tell what it means, we still have to try our best to translate it to the closest meaning as it tended to say.
Such as: The power supply cable can be feed out any side of the docking station at the bottom.
It’s easy to deduce that the “feed” should be “fed” here, it should not be the excuse that we do not understand just because the original sentence is grammatically incorrect.