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The South Asian typography lagged behind the other popular languages in this regard. It is very recently that the Unicode character set for most of these languages has been introduced to the WWW. The Unicode font is not appealing to the print media for its lack of calligraphic beauty and options, hence the persistent use of specialized keyboards in Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, etc.
I am currently applying for Canadian permanent residency and, as part of this process I need to translate my Malaysian birth certificate from Malay into English. I also require a “sworn affidavit from the translator, that the contents of the translation are a true translation and representation of the contents of the original document”. Does your translation service provide this sworn affidavit, and also a certified true copy or notarization of the translation set? I was also wondering how much would all this cost, and how long would it take? Could I just send you a scanned copy of my birth certificate?

We do provide translation services from Malay into English. Please send your documents by email or fax, and we will provide you with an estimate. Please note that we only attach a “translator’s declaration” to our translations, which is sufficient for your purposes as we are a very well known translation agency in British Columbia. We do not provide “certified true copies”. Only public notaries and lawyers offer this type of service in BC.

Translations of technical content are challenging if graphic representation of the product is not available. Usually, there are very little resources to draw from when researching specific terminology on the Internet. Previously translated text relevant to the current work helps to keep vocabulary consistent throughout the documentation of the product.
Obviously a translation follows closely the source document, as demanded by the profession and by the nature of the activity. A copywriter has far more freedom in phrasing an idea than a translator does. Translators do not have the liberty to make any kind of elaborations, ever. The translator’s obligation is to convey the exact meaning of the original text. The balance between accuracy and understandability is quite delicate and it is always left to the client to make the choice.
Translations should always be proofread before broadcasting. It is an essential part of the publishing process, in the same way that editing English text is an essential part of copywriting.
  • Proofreaders check for accuracy, improve style and overall readability keeping in mind the tone and the message of the source document.
  • Substituting words with their exact synonyms (‘over-proofreading’) does not usually improve the quality of the translation. It just makes the post-review by the translator more time consuming and counterproductive, especially when working on very long documents.
  • Proofreaders will familiarize themselves with the terminology used in existing translations to ensure consistency (the proofreaders of the rack card suggested some changes to the terminology that has been used many times before and exists in many publications already available to the public).
Professional Translations Reviewed By Peers – A Collaborative Process

The purpose of the collaborative process of translation review by peers who are experts in the subject area but not in translation per se is to achieve the best quality of promotional material by checking it for accuracy of facts and figures and the terminology specific to the given subject. Despite the due research of the subject area the translators always do, peer reviewers may be more acquainted with the terminology used in the given subject (immigration, settlement, child care, etc.).

Given the fact that the translation is performed by professional translators who are trained linguists and/or language experts, it is little likely that a peer reviewer will need to check the style, grammar or punctuation. Translators are also native speakers of the target language, often immersed in their community and aware of the nuances that need to be conveyed to the readers.

A clear distinction must be made between evaluation and review. The reviewer’s job is not to improve what may already be a good translation. Reviewers should therefore avoid the temptation to “impose” their personal preferences on the translation. In assessing errors, they must simply ask: “Is the translation adequate?” If they feel that it is not, then they must be able to characterize or explain the error. It is not good enough to justify the assessment of an error by saying, “Well, it doesn’t sound right.” If you cannot give the problem a name, then perhaps it is not an error after all.

Please keep in mind that the literacy level of the source text will be reflected in the translation. Translators cannot and will not take the liberty to simplify the source text to adjust it to the literacy level of the readers. A plain language text will be translated into plain target language, just as a technical language text will retain its technical level in the translation. The writer of the original text will have to keep this in mind along with other issues that may affect potential readers (e.g. cultural sensitivity).

When reviewing a PDF file, text boxes (yellow sticky notes) should be used to write comments. One a printed copy, a black pen and legible writing should be used because the corrected pages will probably be scanned and emailed.

The process of back-translation has its inherent limitations, and its success very much depends on what one wants to accomplish. If it is just checking for accuracy, possible omissions, etc., then the process is unnecessarily cumbersome. To ensure more reliable results, one would have to involve not only a translator for the back translation but also a proofreader to ensure quality. But, if one’s goals were to check for accuracy, omissions, etc., the chances are, one would get an answer. The question, however, remains – at what price? Wouldn’t it be possible to accomplish the same with much less effort and expense by simply vetting the existing translation? Back-translation is twice as expensive as proofreading.
If the goal of the back-translation is to establish that the target text was faithfully rendered as far as tone, register and cultural sensitivity are concerned, then the problems are even more intricate. It is an old truism that anything could be translated in many different ways and yet remain faithful to the translator’s understanding of the original text. When using the back-translation verification method one would have to assume that the translator performing this task would be making the same decisions, as did the original writer of the source text. Many decisions translators make are, whether we like it or not, arbitrary (Willard Van Orman Quine, 1960 Word and Object, MIT Press, Chpt. 2 sets out the indeterminacy of translation thesis), and these decisions become even more arbitrary when it comes to issues such as tone, register, etc. Consequently, any result of a back-translation endeavour would have to go through an “editing” process, during which an editor would have to be able to ascertain that while the back-translation expressed things differently than the original text, the spirit (and that includes the register, style, etc.) of the original text has been preserved. Needless to say, this is yet another, rather elaborate procedure that would consume enormous effort, not to mention cost.
The approach that we favour is a proofreader working closely with the original translator and bilingual experts in the field (psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.) to ensure fidelity of the translated text to the source as far as the accuracy, tone and register of the translation are concerned.
When processing translated materials, and producing the final output, instead of aiming for a uniform look among all languages in a project, we concentrate on the languages per se. Our concern is to abide by the cultural sensitivity of each language community. Our translators guide us in doing so and keep us on track. For example, since Persian, Arabic, etc., are read from right to left, all text, letterhead and logos will typically be inverted.

What is common practice in one language or community may not be so in another. And what is meant for a target audience located in the province of British Columbia will not necessarily be suitable for an audience somewhere else.

In order to provide accurate translations, translators have to be able to read the source texts. In many cases it is not possible, but educated guesses can be made at times, and only when the translator has a comfortable level of certainty that the translation is correct. A seasoned translator knows from experience how entries are made in old documents; however, when the entries are not legible, or are abbreviated, it is truly impossible to render a faithful and accurate translation, and since legibility is often a problem, translators prefer or are legally obliged to opt for “illegible” rather than guess.
Despite their staggering complexity, the Chinese characters do have the advantage of making written communication possible between people speaking mutually unintelligible dialects and languages. A given word may be quite different in Mandarin and Cantonese, but it would be written identically in the two dialects. Since the Chinese characters are also used in Japanese, each language, when written, is partially intelligible to a speaker of the other, despite the fact that the two spoken languages are totally dissimilar.

Numerous attempts have been made over the years to simplify the Chinese system of writing. In 1955 the Chinese People’s Republic initiated a plan to simplify more than 1,700 characters, this number to be increased gradually so that over half of the most commonly used symbols would eventually be simplified.

It is common practice in the industry to convert one script automatically into the other, capturing commonalities of the written languages and therefore, to some degree, overlooking cultural and linguistic nuances of the spoken dialects. This practice saves money no doubt, but it does not give justice to the different audiences.
One can suggest two possible reasons why some readers may find a generic translation into Chinese a little hard to understand by different audiences.

Although Chinese speakers could read each other’s script to a certain extent, the terms used by those from China may sometimes convey a different meaning to those from Taiwan and Hong Kong. For example, a term used in China for “computer” actually means “calculator” in Hong Kong. A translator, if originally from Hong Kong, will usually be choosing the diction that reflects his or her cultural background. Somebody from Mainland China will choose different words for the same document and, if the readers are mostly from the Mainland, it would be easier for them to understand the content. A specific example is the rendition of “medical facility,” where the words do translate directly into Chinese (that term is well known in Hong Kong), but the preference in China, obviously more common, is “institution/organization.” Both terms are correct, but a translator from Hong Kong will not pick the latter because of its connotation as something larger in scale and organizational than just a “facility” (not to mention that, quite often, “institution” refers to corporate organizations in Hong Kong). The process of trying to find neutral terms satisfactory to a wider audience is ongoing, but not always possible.

In order to know what Chinese script to translate to, one needs to know who the target audience is. Audiences from Hong Kong and Taiwan read the Chinese Traditional script. Audiences from Mainland China and Singapore read the Chinese Simplified.

It is not possible to know what script to use solely by indicating what the spoken language of the target audience is. Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and in Southern China. Mandarin is spoken in Taiwan, Mainland China and Singapore.

Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is widely spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and to some extent in Iraq, Bahrain and Oman. In Afghanistan the language is called “Dari,” and in Tajikistan it is called “Tajiki.” The language academies in Iran call the language “Persian,” not “Farsi.”
It has to do with the history of Vietnam. Before 1975, Vietnam was divided into two parts. The north was under the communist regime and the south was a free republic. The language also changed substantially between the two regions. The pure (or “unpoliticized”) language was used in South Vietnam but in the north, the language was purposely reshaped and remoulded for propaganda and mass-control purposes.