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Multilingual Translation: Breaking Down Barriers and Opening up Opportunities With Languages

Translating the same content into different languages, known as multilingual translation, is a challenging endeavor. Some of the difficulties that need to be overcome include the particular structures of each language, cultural differences, the need for context or the presence of idioms or colloquialisms.

To ensure the quality and accuracy of the translation, it is essential to use the services of translators specialized in the source and target languages, as well as experienced in the topic and type of translation. Likewise, the computer-assisted translation (CAT) and machine translation (MT) are important tools for multilingual translation, especially in the case of technical or scientific texts.


What are the main challenges of multilingual translation?

In this article, we will discuss the main obstacles and problems of multilingual translation and their solutions. Being aware of these is vital in order to achieve quality translations that do not distort the message between the source language and the different target languages.


Language structure

The fact that there are differences, sometimes very noticeable differences, between the grammatical and syntactic structures of different languages is indisputable. However, this should not be a problem for an experienced professional translator, who should be used to producing natural target texts.

Therefore, the solution to this potential problem is none other than to use professional translators with sufficient linguistic expertise to be able to understand and correctly process the different structures of the languages they work with.

It is necessary for the translator to fully master the grammar of their source language, however different it may be from their native tongue. This proficiency will enable them to detect differences in the sentence structure, as well as interpret them and translate them correctly into the target language.

For example, in some cases, translators translating from Japanese will have to deduce what the subject of the sentence is, as it is a language in which meaning is often down to context. This is not the case in many other languages, such as English and other European languages, where the subject is almost always specified.


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Context and cultural settings

To ensure the quality of a translation, it is necessary for the translator to have as much context-related information as possible, either through their own research or the client providing it to them. For example, the Spanish verb "tratar" is very polysemic: it can be translated as "address" (an issue), "treat" (an illness), "process" (data), and many more, adding up to dozens of different meanings.

This also happens in video game localization, where in order to do a good job, clients must provide information about which characters each sentence corresponds to, so that the translator knows which style or register to use. Unfortunately, this information is not always provided.

It is also necessary to be aware of the text's cultural circumstances in order to be able to translate it correctly. For example, even if the text is written in English, if you do not know whether the author is American, British or any other nationality, you cannot be sure how to interpret the date 02/03/2022, because depending on the country, the date can mean either March 2 or February 3. This confusion may be detrimental to the preservation of meaning and coherence in certain translations.


Translation of expressions and colloquialisms

Idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms can almost never be translated literally, as they lose meaning, and in most cases, not make any sense. It is necessary to evaluate meaning and not only words in order to avoid literal translations.

A clear example is the Spanish expression "de perdidos al río," which has a similar meaning to "in for a penny, in for a pound". However, leading translation engines, such as Google or DeepL, still translate it into English literally (from lost to the river).

The translation of such phrases can only be done by a translator with a good knowledge of both the source and target culture and language. This will allow them to skillfully choose the equivalent idiom or colloquialism, and thus maintain the meaning of the original message.


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Sector experience

Not only is it important for the translator to have extensive linguistic knowledge, but they must also be familiar with the culture of all the territories in which the language is spoken. Otherwise, they will probably be unaware of the meaning of an expression or idiom and make the mistake of translating it literally.

Another important issue is linguistic updating. It is crucial to keep in mind that languages are dynamic, they evolve and new colloquialisms emerge every day. For this reason, the translator must keep up to date with new trends and usages in both the source and target languages. Only then will they be able to find an equivalent expression or term in the same register. This is especially important in translations of more creative texts, such as literary or audiovisual content.


Machine translation and the power of AI

Machine translation, especially if supported by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, is particularly useful for technical and scientific texts, where the difficulty lies mainly in the terminology. In these cases,CAT tools can be used to generate glossaries that are of great help when it comes to maintaining terminology consistency, avoiding mistakes and speeding up the translation process.

On the other hand, machine translation loses much of its effectiveness in the more literary, rhetorical and stylistic content, where there is a great dependence on context. When dealing with this type of content, the translator's knowledge and experience, as well as their skill and cultural background, are essential.


ECO by Pangeanic: a mission to translate all the text in the world

ECO, Pangeanic's language service platform, provides an accurate and easy-to-use machine or hybrid translation service. ECO runs in the cloud and is accessible to any user with a browser and internet access. Thanks to its intuitive interface, the user can process texts directly or use files in the most common formats.

Do not hesitate to try our personalized services, fully adapted to the specific translation needs of each client, as well as the human and technological resources available.