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Language Translation as a Process

Translating goes well beyond the mere univocal conversion of terms between two languages. A translator’s art is to transpose meaning from one culture to another, with a skillful choice of linguistic tools. A translator’s aptitude is rigorously measured on the basis of knowledge of the subject matter, ability to identify with the contents, accuracy and adherence to the source text. Translation memories, glossaries and style guides are essential work tools and are tailored for each client.

Trans-Edit Group has formalized and certified the translation process with the authority of its ISO 9001:2008 certification, organizing it into the following sequential steps: Pre-translation layout, translation by mother-tongue language experts, specialist editing, proofreading, post-translation layout and final quality control.

Depending on the type of text, further services include post-editing and stylistic rewriting, scientific review, localization, typesetting, printing or supply of multimedia supports.

Translation as a product is a written text in a target language as the end result of a translation process for a source-language text.

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The translator is mainly a “message conveyor. ” Thus a translation may be understood as the process whereby a message which is expressed in a particular source language is linguistically transformed in order to be understood by readers of the target language.

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Actually, the translator is conveying the meaning expressed by the original writer so the end reader gets a translated text that is faithful to the source text in meaning.

Sometimes the translator finds it necessary to reconsider the original wording for better understanding of the source text in order to render it in the target language. When dealing with a translation, one of the processes included in the work is the analysis of the ST. This analysis, called TOSTA (Translation Oriented Source Text Analysis), helps us discover the function of the text, the target readers (with different levels of knowledge and different ages), as well as “ST elements that need to be preserved or adapted in translation” (Nord 1991: 21). The translation process is of twofold:

  • The translator needs to detect possible modifications and flaws in the original text and understand the meaning they intend to convey. To do this, the translator often needs to be familiar with the contents of the text in order to clarify the ambiguities he has come across.
  • The translator will unwrap the syntactic structure of the original text and then formulate the corresponding message in the target language, thus giving the original text added value in terms of both wording and impact.

Phases of Translation

  • The First Phase: Analysis of the source text.
  • The Second Phase: Transfer of the text into the target language.
  • The Third Phase: Revision of translation.

Analysis of the source text

The goal of this stage is complete understanding of the SL text. This may include a number of steps:

  1. General Reading of the source text.
  2. Underlining the difficult words.
  3. Looking up the difficult words in a dictionary.
  4. Close reading of the source text after understanding the difficult words.

Transfer of the text into the target language

At this stage, the translator tries to write a draft translation following certain steps:

  1. Writing a draft translation of the text in the target language.
  2. Paying special attention to the grammar and spelling of the target text.
  3. Including all the details mentioned in the source text.
  4. Trying to make the target text as original as possible and sound natural not translated.

Revision of the translation

This stage aims at giving a correct and final translation as a target text. Revising of the translation when it is completed and trying to make it better by editing it:

  1. Make sure that all the details of the source text are found in the target text.
  2. Check the spelling and grammar of the target text.
  3. Try to make the translated version sounds natural in its target language form.
  4. Read the translation after finishing the corrections without referring to the source text to emphasize the naturalness of the target text.

Levels of the Process of Translation

In fact, Newmark asserts that the process of translation operates in four levels:

  • source text level: the source text itself and its immediate impression on the translator.
  • Referential level: the level of content of the text (technically the level of the conceptual representation) .
  • Cohesive level: the level where you aim at making a cohesive target text (and analyze the cohesion of the source text).
  • level of naturalness: the level of constructing a natural target text in an appropriate language.

The textual level

At this level, you translate, or transpose, the syntactic structures of the source text into corresponding structures in the target text. Often you will find that, for a variety of reasons, you will have to change these structures into something quite different further down the line to achieve target language naturalness.

The referential level

As mentioned above, this is the level of content, so here you operate primarily with the message (or information) or semantics of the text. This is where you decode the meaning of the source text and build the conceptual representation. This is where you disambiguate polysemous words and phrases and where you decode idioms and figurative expressions. This is where you figure out whether what the locution(s) and illocution(s) of the source text are and what the perlocution might be.Once you have decoded the word or expression in question, you encode it into an appropriate target language expression. Note that there will be cases, like idioms and metaphors, in which you will have to use literal expressions in the target language, because it does not have any corresponding idioms or metaphors. The referential level and the textual level are, of course, closely intertwined, as the nature and texture of the source text convey the message, and, of course, you also encode the message, using language, into the target text.

The cohesive level

The cohesive level links the textual and the referential levels in that it deals with the structure/format of the text and information as well as with what Newmark calls the mood of the text. At the structural sublevel, you investigate how various connectors, such as conjunctions, enumerations, repetitions or reiterations, definite articles and determiners, general category labels, synonyms, punctuation marks, simple or complex conjuncts, link sentences and structure the text and what Newmark calls its train of thought – which is basically its underlying information structure. You establish its tone by finding so-called value-laden and value-free passages, such as subjective and objective bits, euphemisms, and other framing devices, framing being the strategy of linguistically presenting something in the perspective of one’s own values and worldview, in a way promoting these. All of this will have to be somehow transferred into the target text so you achieve maximal equivalence at this level .

The level of naturalness

This level is target text oriented, focusing exclusively on the construction of the target text. Random, unpredictable things that just seem unnatural in the target language makes things more complicated as naturalness often depends on the situation, such that something might seem natural in one context but unnatural in another. Perhaps, the only way, to ensure naturalness is to read through your translation and spot unnaturally sounding parts and change them into something that sounds more natural. This is something that most people skip when they do translations.


  1. Kim Ebensgaard Jensen, Basics of Translation, The process of translating– spring 09. Newmark, Peter,1988
  2. A textbook of translation. Prentice-Hall International (New York).
  3. Nord, C. (1991). Text analysis in translation: Theory, methodology and didactic application of a model for translation-oriented text analysis.

Cite this page

Language Translation as a Process. (2016, Sep 18). Retrieved from

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