Everyone has a native language. It’s what we learn at mother’s knees. While there are bilinguals and even trilinguals, most of us have only one mother tongue. We suck it from our language and cultural environment and feel even the smallest deviations from what we are used to.
For a translator, it’s very important to translate into their native language. The main reason for this is because we translate not words but meaning and ideas. Just one simple example will illustrate this process of correct conveying of an idea.
Let’s take a thing we all perfectly know — a Christmas tree. Really, what can be more straightforward? Any English-speaking person knows what it is. But if we translate it into Russian word-for-word, we will receive quite a foreign notion. Russians do not call it a tree nor do they decorate it for Christmas. In Russian-speaking countries we call it
a fir. And to be more exact, a spruce. And it’s not a Christmas but a New Year one. A New Year spruce. Sounds funny for an English speaker, doesn’t it? But it’s what we really have. Most often we don’t even mention a description. We decorate a spruce. We dance around a spruce. And we place presents under a spruce. That’s it.
Do you think many foreigners know such tiny details and can correctly translate them? But a native translator will surely make all necessary changes in the wording and provide a similar idea of the phrase in the source text. That’s what we call localization. Translators change some words and even give descriptions that are far from the original but that have the same connotation in the target text.
And what if the idea in the source text has no equivalent in the target one? In this case a translator may choose to create a whole new text that will convey the idea of the original. Thus, they may use cultural adaptation or creative writing. This is also the case for texts that may sound rude, impolite or out-of-place in the target language if translated word-for-word.
As you see, it’s very important to find a translator who knows the specifics of the target country environment and language. A good translation never sounds foreign. The translated text should be perceived as if it was originally written in a target language.
If you or your company needs a good translation for a Russian-speaking audience, please do not hesitate to contact me any time you need. I’m available 24/7.