There are numerous types of translation, although it is not easy to draw up an exhaustive list.
Translation is a service that can be applied to every area of the economy. It is constantly changing and evolving over time, and this inevitably also affects classification criteria for translations.
To simplify our classification, we have identified seven types of translation:
- legal and court
- medical and scientific
These are certainly the best known and most frequently requested types, so let’s take a closer look at them.
When submitting documents in a foreign country, a certified translation may be required.
This term refers to the type of translation that certifies that the translated version faithfully corresponds to the text in the original language. Certified translations are generally needed to submit certificates, degrees, contracts, court documents or other documents abroad.
In such cases, it is necessary to hire translators who, in addition to being specialists in law and in this type of translation, are also registered in the Court’s Register of Technical Consultants (CTU) or in professional associations of interpreters and translators, in accordance with the requirement deemed mandatory by certain courts, such as that of Milan.
In addition to transposing the text from the source language to the target language, the translator must also make a sworn statement. Specifically, translators declare before the justice of the peace, the notary or the court registry that they have faithfully translated the content of the original text and assume responsibility for their work.
Certified translation, also known as “sworn translation”, therefore consists of a folder containing three collated documents:
- the original text
- the translated version
- an oath statement
It is also necessary to affix a revenue stamp on the translated text, normally every five pages, although this criterion may vary depending on the court of jurisdiction.
Given the complex process that must be followed to obtain this type of translation, such assignments are generally entrusted to specialized agencies.
Way2Global, for example, works with a network of translators enrolled in the aforementioned registers covering all of Italy and can therefore deal with any certified translation request in any language and in any market within a short timeframe, managing all the related tasks on behalf of the customer.
Legal and court translation
Another type of translation, which partly includes the previous category, is legal and court translation, i.e. translations of proceedings normally produced by bodies such as civil or criminal courts, registries, judges and bailiffs.
In this case too, two types of services must be acquired, which are both essential.
The first is the outright translation of the document, which may be a legal opinion, judgement, law, administrative act, etc. The translator entrusted with this task must be specialized in the legal and judicial field, and must therefore have excellent knowledge of law, be familiar with the legal system and legal institutions of the two relevant countries, and have a command of specialized terminology.
These skills are indispensable for translating legal and judicial documents, which make extensive use of technical expressions and phraseology that are impossible to translate without in-depth knowledge of the different countries’ regulatory frameworks and how they correlate. It is therefore crucial that the translator understand every nuance of the document’s subject matter and have excellent knowledge of the specific concepts and terminology used in the various countries, so that they can effectively complete the task using the most appropriate terms.
However, once this stage has been completed, the document must also be given the same legal validity as the original. This is done through legalization or “apostillation”, both of which are additional services to translation.
Whether the former or latter is chosen depends on the country for which the document is intended. If it is one of the signatories to the Hague Convention, then it can be apostilled, otherwise legalization is required.
Regardless of the service chosen, the process results in a document that is also legally recognized abroad.
If the texts that require translation are user guides, specifications, data sheets or product manuals, then this is considered technical translation.
This category covers texts of a technical nature characterized by highly specialized language, which makes it inadvisable to use a generalist translator.
To produce a professional technical translation, it is not enough just to know the working languages and culture of the two countries involved, or to possess translation skills — it is also necessary to have a perfect command of the terminology used in the sector.
Technical language, with unambiguous and disambiguated terminological correspondence between one language and another, makes these texts particularly suitable for the use of new technologies such as machine translation.
Moreover, since these texts are often substantial, using new digital work tools significantly reduces work and final delivery times. This does not mean that translators are being replaced by artificial intelligence and technology — on the contrary, their role is changing, but becoming even more crucial. Translators remain at the helm and must oversee the entire translation process to check that the translation support technologies do not produce errors, to ensure that linguistic expressions are intelligible in order to adapt them to the target language and culture, and to handle all the nuances that are still a human prerogative.
Technical translations therefore clearly require the same expertise and attention to detail as other types of translation, such as medical, scientific or financial.
In this context, too, a simple error can lead to serious consequences and risks, such as the incorrect use or malfunction of a machine or industrial facility.
To avoid such risks, the translation must be given the same importance as the original text, while maintaining quality standards.
Medical and scientific translation
Another very well-known type is medical and scientific translation.
This involves translating health dossiers, clinical studies, articles and scientific research, leaflets, medical books and all medical and scientific documents.
Careful, correct use of terminology is particularly important in this area, since these texts directly or indirectly concern people’s health, which makes it even more essential to hire professionals.
Those who handle this type of translation specialize in the medical and scientific field and are constantly up to date on the latest medical and healthcare developments. Ongoing training, coupled with years of experience, enables these professionals to identify the most appropriate specialist term in every case.
However, it may not be enough to rely entirely on specialized translators. To be 100% sure that the translated text is adequate and suitable for its intended end use, additional checks should be applied, such as downstream revision by an expert in the field, known as an SME (Subject Matter Expert).
In this case the SME is a doctor or other health professional whose task is to check that the translated text is clear, correct and immediately understandable to the target audience. The SME must therefore exclusively focus on the content and the target language, while form and linguistic accuracy remain the responsibility of reviewers and proofreaders.
Last but not least, in the case of medical and scientific translation, the target audience must always be clearly identified. Phraseology and terminology should be chosen with this in mind. For example, a document intended for a patient requires far less technicality and depth than a text aimed at a doctor or researcher.
If you choose a professional agency, there will be no issues: Translators know how to tailor language to the end user.
Editorial – or literary – translation is the type that is best known to the general public. It involves translating books, novels, poems, articles and anything else that often fills the shelves of bookshops around the world.
Unlike the previous types, this category does not require very strict linguistic transposition, but allows translators much more creative license. However, although translators have greater flexibility and autonomy in their stylistic and lexical choices, the one constraint is that they respect the spirit and content of the message the author wants to convey to their audience.
To be more in tune with the author’s spiritual outlook, literary translators spend a lot of time studying before embarking on a translation. They must acquire comprehensive knowledge of the author: their biography, style, thinking, philosophy, etc. All this information helps translators to fully understand and therefore adapt the original work to the different linguistic and cultural context.
Everyone knows that language is steeped in culture, so in addition to translation it is often necessary to localize the text, i.e. to adapt it to the linguistic and cultural references of the new target audience.
A literary translator’s task is to ensure that reading a book or a poem evokes the same emotions and feelings in readers, regardless of the target language and country.
This is a very complex process that requires a high level of linguistic sensitivity and writing skills to match those of the original work’s author.
When the translator’s style succeeds in fully identifying with the author’s needs and expectations, the result is a translation that is so well done that it is impossible to distinguish the original from the translated version.
Another notable translation area is financial translation, which represents our core business. This concerns documents of a financial nature such as reports, contracts, business plans, analysts’ comments and much more.
As in other specialty areas, this work should be entrusted to specialized professionals. They must be familiar with financial matters and must keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector. This is why all Way2Global’s financial translators have a solid background in the industry as CFOs, brokers, or financial analysts, and take advantage of the opportunities for further education that we provide through tailored training courses.
To ensure that this type of translation is terminologically accurate, in addition to complying with the structured work cycle in compliance with ISO standards, reference is made to the official terminology of institutional bodies such as the ECB, Bank of Italy, Borsa Italiana and ABI. Moreover, it is customary to use specific, specialized terminology databases and glossaries agreed upon with the customer to ensure respect for jargon preferences and stylistic uniformity across the entire set of documents submitted for translation.
Last but not least, one of the most important factors when it comes to this type of translation is confidentiality. This condition is met by signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in which the translator commits to keeping the information contained in the work document strictly confidential.
The development of the Internet has led an increasing number of companies to establish their presence on the market through a wide range of digital marketing tools including websites, e-commerce sites, newsletters, blogs, etc.
The proliferation of all this content has resulted in the explosion of a new type: web translation.
Like editorial translation, web translation gives translators a considerable degree of flexibility, since the content not only has to be translated, but also localized.
Localization involves adapting any element (whether written or multimedia) to the target user’s culture. Localization therefore means replacing expressions linked to a specific culture with concepts and terms that convey the same message, but are immediately comprehensible to people living in a different country. This involves, among other things, modifying and adapting dates, times and currencies, as well as images, photos and videos so that everything is perfectly aligned with the user’s cultural references.
In this article, we have covered some of the most popular and frequently requested types of translation. We have seen how each relates to a very specific area, complicating the service.
In addition to considering the distinctive cultural aspects of each language, terminology, phraseology and concepts used in each specific field must be taken into account in order to transpose them into the target language as appropriately as possible.
To overcome the inherent challenges of this work and to avoid mistakes and unfortunate risks, it is always advisable to consult professionals.
Way2Global is a translation agency that has been in business for over 30 years, providing language services to the highly regulated financial, medical/scientific, legal, technical and web localization sectors.
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