Translation Methods of Product Manuals

According to skopos theory, what methods translators will choose always relies on the purposes of the translation.Product manuals are information description about the use, standard and operation of goods, so for the translation of product manuals, the main purpose is to stimulate the consumers’ purchase desire that drive them to consume products, so it is not adequate or possible only to render the equivalence-based linguistic forms to fulfill the function.

Instead of only being confined to the range of the original text, the translator have the right to make use of every method which he or she consider appropriate in translation as to make the translation cater to the target language and appeal to the target audience.

In the meantime, the informative, aesthetic and vocative functions should be taken into consideration by the translator in the process of translating. He should relate his translation with consumer needs, motives, and expectations, he should also evaluate the actual performance of his translation among the addressees and judge whether the intended functions can be best achieved or not.

1. Enlightenment of Skopos Theory to Product Manual Translation

Purpose of product manual translation are easily and widely understood as to help the target consumer to know the product’s detail information, it is an attempt to encourage them to buy or try. How to make the target function be similar with or equivalent to the source? The three rules of skopos theory give us a clear direction.

Skopos rule views that every action has its own purpose, the purpose of product manual translation determines which method it should take. In the procedure of product manual translation, the communicative purpose of the target text is to convey the product detailed information and to stimulate the consumer to buy.

It means that the informative function and vocative function of manual should be achieved in the translated text. For this central purpose, the manuals translation method is fixed, literal translation, free translation, or the combination of these two. Coherence rule, some scholar also calls intratextual-coherence, refers to the translated text can be understood by the receivers.

That’s to say, the translated text should have a corresponding meaning in the communicative environment and culture which it intervened. In the procedure of product manual translation, sometimes the original textual language is complex, high theoretical quality, monotonous and hard to grasp the meaning, in order to make the target text admitted by the receivers, the translator should take popular and easy to understood language to reappear the source text meaning.

Fidelity rule means “intertextual coherence”. Since translation is an offer of information, it is expected to bear some kind of relation with the corresponding source text. As regards the translation of product manuals, all the necessary information about the product should be found in the target text. Although the target-text readers are different from these of the source text, their skopos should be essentially the same, so the fidelity rule also is an important principle for product manual translation.

The above part has analyzed the enlightenment of the three rules of skopos theory. This part is to discuss what translation methods can be employed to realize equal functional translation. Just like translation strategies, translation methods are objective.

Translators can choose proper translation methods according to his translation purposes. Through discussing language features of manuals in chaptor two, we can find literal translation is a common translation convention in the translation of manuals. But literal translation itself cannot solve all the translation problems, so other methods are needed. Free translation can be used as a complement.

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