We have briefly discussed the gaps in translation in our last ProZ.com article, but what about the gluts?
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Is it possible to find more than one match for the same origin-language expression?
By match we obviously mean an expression that makes us select the world reference we have selected when thinking of the expression in the origin-language.
We respect the following hierarchy when looking for matches:
1) Perfect match (sound and sense: If the Brazilian ‘ao’ always gets changed into ‘tion’ in English, then consideration is a perfect match for consideracao in terms of sound, for instance);
2) Semantic match (look for a perfect semantic match and choose the best approximation. For instance, bolsa is a semantic match for bag. Saco also is. Scholarship is bolsa de estudos in Portuguese. Bolsa de estudos literally translates into bag of studies, which does not make any sense in English…); and
3) Gap (will have to make use of notes, N.T.s…).
Suppose that we have considered the hierarchy and we have found plenty of semantic matches, but no perfect match.
For instance, the word bloco, from the Portuguese language, finds at least notebook and carnival group as semantic matches in the English language.
In the other direction, the word you, from the English language, finds at least tu, voce, and vos as semantic matches in the Portuguese language.
We now have a glut problem… .
Is there any situation in which we cannot solve the glut problem?
There surely is… .
Sometimes the plurality of choices will force us (ethics) to withdraw from an assignment. That is why all translators should refrain from putting price on jobs or accepting them if they have not yet seen the documents that they are supposed to translate… .
Frequently our clients want the work done ‘for yesterday’, we really need the money, and the temptation is extraordinary. Notwithstanding, just like the policeman who has vocation for the profession that he chose, we must discipline ourselves and, at any expense, see the material we will be working with before telling prices to clients or accepting serving them.
Suppose that there be a list, for instance, of items, without any context, being offered to us and bloco be one of the words in this list… .
The difference between a notebook and a carnival group has to be huge… .
The notes (N.T.s) could be used in this situation, but, if that is part of another document, for instance, say a dictation list for kids, then we could be adding negative value to our name by making use of them.
We should try, as hard as we can, to work always with contexts, for only those can refine the origin-language text enough for us to start dreaming of having a perfect translated version of it.
Notice that we also have produced more evidence, in this text, on the impossibility of having machines replacing human beings in full in terms of translation of texts… . For as long as the Turing machine contests be won by humans, thinking of doing that may be told to be irrational.