The importance of linguistic and non-linguistic aspects in translation process

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By: Mohamed Saleh, English-Arabic translator

Language consists of words, grammar, syntax,…etc. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, language means the system of words that persons use to express feelings and thoughts to each other. Translation means, words that have been changed from one language into another.

If we get really deep into the meaning of translation, we will find that the art of translation is not an interlinguistic procedure, but replacing the original text with target language text involves subtle educational and cultural differences that can form the options and attitudes of persons as recipients (Bernacka, 2012).

So as we see, language is a mixture of words and translation is a mediator or a tool of transferring words between two languages and the compile of these words produces the targeted meaning. Also, Anna Bernacka adds that the translator should be an intermediary among various language systems an intercultural mediator alike. Furthermore, translators have to understand the meaning correctly before starting the translation process; in order to deliver accurate, competent, and error-free product.

There are some crucial aspects that translators have to maintain in relation to translation management and if translators do not take care of, their translation product will be affected negatively. As a result, this would take out of their reputation as translation. These aspects are divided into two main categories as follows:

The linguistic aspects:
The linguistic aspects – as per SAE J2450 Translation Quality Metric Task Force –  which translators should be aware of are:

1. Wrong terms
Translators should avoid using wrong terms, as far as possible, to produce good, accurate product. Using wrong terms would change the intended meaning and lead to misunderstanding in the target language. As a result, this may result in mistranslations which may cause problems. The following example explains that: The word “asistir” doesn’t mean “to assist,” it means “to attend.”

2. Syntactic errors
A syntax error is a violation of the syntax, or grammatical rules. The following sentence contains an error of English syntax: “I is going to visit my uncle.” Translators and linguists should not do such mistakes in writing as they indicate that they are not professionals.

3. Omission
Omission could be useful in some few cases, but in most cases it may lead to serious problems as in this example: For a reason or another the “c” in President Barack Obama’s first name was omitted. The mistake was spotted just a few days before the election, incurring approximately $75,000 in reprinting costs, as (Katherine, 2016) stated.

4. Misspelling
Translators should check and proof-read their translation before submitting it to the client to ensure that there free of misspelling because this will definitely affect the quality of translation negatively.  According to a July 2011 BBC News article, spelling mistakes cause readers to lose faith in the quality of a website’s content, resulting in “millions … in lost revenue,” (Katherine, 2016).   

5. Punctuation mistakes
Although many translators do not take care of using punctuation marks or use it incorrectly, it is really important to use in writing in order to clarify the meaning. The following example is really good to show the importance of punctuation and how the misuse of punctuation can cause problems: “Una mujer sin su hombre no es nada.” -- When you read this sentence without using punctuation marks, you will notice that it has three versions or it could be understood in three different ways as shown below:

  • A woman without her man is nothing.
  • A woman, without her, man is nothing.
  • A woman, without her man, is nothing.

The non-linguistic aspects:    
The non-linguistic aspects are also no less important than the linguistic aspects. Some of non-linguistic aspects are:

1. Segment-level checks
Sometimes translators, unknowingly, overlook translating sentences or paragraphs which result in translation errors. Translators should always check for forgotten or incomplete translations to procure perfect translation.   

 2. Inconsistency
The translation must be consistent and meaningful. Inconsistency could occur in the source or target languages, so translators have to make sure that the translation is consistent.   

3. Numbering
Translators should always check the numbering values or formatting, measurement unit conversion, or digit to text conversion to avoid making errors that are related to the points mentioned above.
Translators should learn from the aforementioned points and always check and proof-read their translations to produce an accurate, perfect product.  “The importance of good translation is most obvious when things go wrong,” (OKRENT,2016). Translators also should learn from their mistakes and try not to make such mistakes in future assignments.
K. (2016). How Spelling Mistakes Affect Translation. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from
OKRENT, A. (2016). 9 Little Translation Mistakes That Caused Big Problems. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from
Mohamed Saleh, English-Arabic translator, interpreter, and proof-reader, and Translation Intern at Modlingua, India's No1. certified translation and Language service providers based in New Delhi.

Certified Quality Translation Services in Delhi