Journalistic translation is a special field of expertise, which includes translation for public print and electronic media. Mass media has a mission to disseminate news to the world. Qualified translators are key players in making this happen, effectively and accurately.
It is always better having a known translator or one that comes recommended, rather than embarking on a time consuming search for a translator when the need arises, when it’s a rush job.
“While we try to assign correspondents overseas who are fluent in the relevant language, there is no way that a paper as serious about international news as The Times can operate without interpreters. Many, many interpreters.” 1
“Watch out for literal translations.
Most online tools have the tendency to translate certain words and place names too literally… For example, in an Arabic tweet containing “Hajar Aswad,” a neighborhood in Syria’s capital city of Damascus, the name is converted to English by Google Translate as “the city of the Black Stone.” “Most have at least some difficulties properly translating slang, emotion, and nuance.” 2
Readers don’t want to battle through a story which was roughly translated word-by-word by an online translation tool. It should sound flawless, as though it was written by the author.
Translating headlines is the key to reaching global audiences.
Only interpreters who are well acquainted to the topic can bring the idea to the reader clearly and concisely.
“The quality of a translation goes not just to accuracy of detail or intent, not just to felicity of language, but to clarity, nuance and credibility. An intellectual who makes a powerful point in Polish or Pashto can sound less convincing in a clumsy translation. A good translation can convey the charisma of a rabble-rouser, the egotism of a tyrant, the wit of a poet, the heartbreak of a victim; a bad translation can deny us the sense of character.” 1
Professional translators “ensure that information is being distributed – and received – accurately” 2
Journalism translators have to rewrite the initial copy so that any literary device will be matched by its twin in the target language.
Special attention goes into translating texts embedded in quotes. If not translated accurately, the translation can be incorrect, sometimes even offensive, leading to confusion and misunderstanding.
Journalistic translation has key role for societies everywhere. People want and need to know what is happening around the world. The press and media allow them to stay in touch with what is really going on.
“We’re dealing with things like climate change and overpopulation. We all have to make decisions about this, and if we have a population that’s not educated enough, then I feel like we’re going into a dark age where a few politicians and science advisors might make all the decisions. Science writers play a role in keeping democracy strong and letting us all participate in these conversations.” 3
1 Translation and Journalism (Bill Keller, 2007)
2 Four online translation tips journalists (Lindsay Kalter, 2012)
3 An exercise in translation: The world of science journalism (Ola Wietecha, 2013)
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