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Translating Style

There are many ways to approach rendering text in a different language. From my perspective, there are three basic approaches: mechanical (computer), translation, and interpretive. The first is now most often done by running the text through a computer program. The results of such mechanical translations have improved significantly since I first used one in the late ’60s. In many cases, a mechanical rendering is good enough to get the author’s intent across. That is particularly true for factual text such as technical writing. The second approach to rendering text, translation, is most often done by humans, sometimes with assistance from mechanical translation programs. This style of rendering tends to be fairly close to the original text in terms of the words used. Sometimes when rendering poetry there is a similarity of rhythm and rhyme. However, often there is a better correspondence between the author’s intent and that expressed by the translator since a good translator will attempt to use words that express the translator’s understanding of the author’s intent. That is, there is some …