How Language Diversity Influences Translation Decisions

language diversity, language
Remember a biblical story about building the Tower of Babel? Language diversity appeared just then, in the twilight of history. The building endeavor ended up with the loss of one common language and emergence of many different tongues in the world.

Today, people speak more that six thousand tongues. Furthermore, many of these tongues have regional variations that may differ essentially.

In addition to regional variations, a tongue has register variations, i.e. styles which people use in different situations. Register depends on a topic, addressee, occasion, purpose and so on.

So into which tongue you want to translate your text? English, French, Spanish… All of them have regional variations. For example:

  • EnglishAmerican English, British English, Indian English, Australian English, Philippine English, other Englishes

  • French – Metropolitan French, Canadian French, African French, French dialects in Europe and Asia

  • Spanish – European Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Llanito, variations of Spanish in the Philippines, Morocco and Equatorial Guinea
Find out or ask your foreign partner about the tongue or regional variation into which your text should be translated. Thus, by choosing the right regional variation you will speak your audience's tongue. The Languages Of The World Map, which highlights official and other tongues spoken in different countries of the world, may be helpful in coping with language diversity and defining the target tongue.

What is the tongue of your source text? When you send your text to a translator, indicate the tongue of the text (e.g. UK English or US English). It may happen that the tongue of the source text is unknown to you. In this case, try to use one of the many free online language guessers to identify the tongue.

These guessers are guessing among several dozens of tongues. However, although they are helpful, they do not cover all tongues and vernaculars. Thus, once I received a request to identify a dialect in which a personal letter was written. It turned out that the letter was written at the beginning of the past century in one of the western Ukrainian dialects with the inclusion of many Polish words. Hardly a language guesser would be able to identify such dialect.

The last (but not the least) important parameter that should be mentioned is register. Register is the appropriate use of the vocabulary in a given situational setting. For example, the register of a Clinical Study Protocol is different from the register of a Patient Informed Consent Form. (Here is a client checklist for quality medical translations).

People choose the register every time they write or speak. Your text for translation also has its register. It may be blurred and may not deviate much from the "neutral" style. However, if it deviates materially it can be a trap for a translator. So do tell your translator to observe the register like one of my clients has done:

    Guidelines for Patient Information Letter Translation

    …It is very important that this document is easy to read and understand for every patient of 16 years and older, regardless of their background or knowledge.

    Therefore please keep the following guidelines in mind for the translation of this document:
    1. Avoid as much as possible academic or medical jargon and choose common words and expressions.
    2. Avoid complicated sentence constructions. If needed, sentences can be split up.
    3. Use active verbal tenses instead of passive tenses.
    4. Keep imperative verbal tenses to a minimum…

A well-written source text (proper register, style, grammar, and punctuation) significantly increases changes of getting good translation. How to write more effectively? Find out in the ebook "Effective Writing Made Simple."

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Language Diversity in Stories

Latin phrases  and Latin proverbs  accompanied by equivalent Ukrainian, Russian and English phrases and proverbs.

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture and its lost language.

Name Translation And Wisdom Of The Stars  - The ancients regarded the choice of the name as the choice of the direction in life. Some bother about their name translation in other languages. But astrological aspects of names are more important.

Free name translation  - First names (and surnames) are mostly transliterated into other languages. But some can be translated. A specialized mini search engine will help to find free name translation or transliteration.

Funny translations  - Some mistranslations (e.g. in legal and medical fields) cause a lot of problems, tension and stress, some are just funny translations. Here they are to amuse you!

False cognates or "false friends of a translator"  - Translate words: cognates and false cognates in Russian-English translation. False cognates are misleading and tricky because they can be interpreted as true cognates.

Word origins, page 1  and page 2 about word origins  - Stories of English, Russian and Ukrainian words with common roots. Check your knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian with the help of a special table.

Bible translations online  - A quick overview of sites that offer Bible translations online in different languages of the world.

English love sayings and love proverbs.

Bible translations  - Read briefly about ancient versions and the Masorah; the Septuagint and Peshitta; the Vulgate; targums; the Authorized King James Bible, Bible translations into Old Slavonic and Russian.

Learn foreign languages to overcome communication barriers that language diversity creates:

Learn French Today
Struggling to learn French? Find French learning tips and ideas to help you learn French fast and efficiently. Find out which learning method is best for you. Understand and be understood!

Best Way to Learn Spanish  - Best Way to Learn Spanish - learning Spanish, learning to speak Spanish, how to speak Spanish.

Education Resources:  links to great educational sites that help in learning foreign tongues.

School of Language  - Worldwide language schools directory. Find a School of Language around the world.

More resources on learning foreign languages

Didn't find what you were looking for? Use this search feature to find it.

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