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General Translation Strategies

Summary:

This resource provides information on strategies that the students can use when incorporating languages other than English in their academic texts.

Contributors: Aleksandra Swatek
Last Edited: 2016-10-24 01:12:17

You will have to decide whether you need to keep the text in original, translate, or present the readers with both. The decision about the strategy you use for incorporating the non-English materials in your writing should be based on a number of considerations, including:

The familiarity of the language and culture that you expect from your audience

A research paper in your Spanish literature class might draw more heavily on Spanish language, because most of your readers will know some of it.

The attention that you put on the specific vocabulary that you are bringing into your writing

When an author used a particular term in their language and this term has many equivalents in your language. For example, Martin Heidegger coined the German term Dasein, which is often translated into English as “being there” or “presence.” If you substituted discussing the term Dasein with the word presence, the readers might come to the conclusion that it is a term that has no relation to Dasein. This might lead them to believe that you are using it in the original meaning of presence that has no relation to the Heideggerian definition of Dasein.

The effect you want to have on your audience

You can shape your audience’s reading experience and expectations by considering what effect using an untranslated text will have on the readers, in relationship to the purpose you set for your writing. The reason why parts a text might be left untranslated can vary between writers. For instance, you might require the audience to take a more active part in decoding the text and working on the translation on their own. Another reason might be offering the audience the experience of attempting to read a text in a language they have not learned before, in order to challenge them and provide them with that experience. Other reasons that you set for the audience you are writing for are valid too.

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