Nowadays the translators tend to use Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools for translation work due to its cost-saving and productivity-enhancing benefits. CAT tools let the translators work in a mostly tabular environment that allows the translators to translate the text sentence by sentence.

Working in such translation environment, the translators can avoid translation missing as much as possible, but on the other hand they will easily ignore the context, finally resulting in improper translation.

Such situations are popular in IT translation, especially for the user interface translation. For example, suppose there is only one word “Minutes:” in a translation unit, and you translate it as “分钟:”.

Read Also: My Experiences about Translating

It looks OK without considering the context. In fact, the number of minutes will follow the colon, so the correct translation should be “分钟数:”. Therefore, it is hard to accurately grasp the meaning if just considering each word or sentence alone without bearing the context in mind. For more examples, please refer to 如何翻译 GUI 界面文件 (一).

Besides IT translation, paying enough attention to the context is also important to any other filed of translation. Here we will give some examples for future reference.

Example 1:

Source: I don’t really know how I’m gonna follow up that introduction.

Translation: 我真的不知道如何作进一步的介绍。

Please check whether the translation is right. Maybe most of us will think is correct if we don’t put it into context. Actually, “follow up” here does not mean “future introduction” but “changing from one speaker to another”, so the correct translation will be:


Example 2:

Source: Thank you Nat for the opportunity to talk about something that I think is really important for this community.

Translation: Nat,谢谢你,让我有机会谈谈自己认为对本社区确实非常重要的一些事。

You still cannot find something wrong? Okay, let me explain it for you. “community” in this case does not mean “physical community’ but “audience”, so the correct translation will be:


Example 3:

Source: Change Management

Translation: 领导层变更

The translation also looks acceptable if it appears alone. However, it is another case, and it means “managing the changes” not “ a change in management”, so the correct translation will be:


Therefore, it is very important for translators to bear the context in mind while translating. Only in such way the translators could provide accurate translation.