On Dictionaries and the Translation Service

A Business Dictionary (German-English dictionary or English-German dictionary) or any other dictionary for that matter cannot give the translations you, as a professional person, require. An English-German dictionary, whether in hard copy or software, will replace the English word with a German word but even with an excellent knowledge of German it is not enough. A professional English to German translation service goes way beyond this in order to obtain truly verified translations based on extensive research and experience. The translation pairs English-German and German-English don’t really work both ways though. Attempting a translation into one’s second language from one’s native language, for all but the simplest of documents, is simply not professional unless you have the resultant translation proofread by a native speaker. That is why this is predominantly an English to German translation service, which has been developed to give you a German document to be proud of, not just satisfied with.

Finding suitable contextual uses of the words

My goal is to make it possible to express your full vocabulary in a truly German style. This is the main difference to other translation services – it is not just a dictionary exercise. By studying the dynamics of English to German translation the resulting German vocabulary is styled to the target audience, as if a German in their field had written it, rather than it looking like a product of some translation software (or dictionary software). Instead of just browsing the dictionary for an English-German translation for a tricky colloquial expression or technical term several other research tools are used in both the English and German languages. The translation is often validated by finding suitable contextual uses of the German words in text or on the Internet.

Illustration: Translation vs Dictionairy

Be aware of style changes between target audiences

It is not just a question of general vocabulary when it comes to languages but a question of style. The correctness of a translation is not just that each English phrase is technically correct in German. In any language a writer writing a computer user manual does not use the same language as a writer writing advertising, or another writing news items, or a technical or commercial contract writer. Translations need vocabulary but each translation needs its own proper style and each language has its peculiarities. There is an additional language problem with German where many English words are being used amongst certain target audiences (especially the young) in place of the equivalent German words. This is called, amusingly enough, “Neudeutsch” (new German). But it takes an expert in translation with a current vocabulary and a good knowledge of the guidelines of where and when Neudeutsch should be used in a German translation to make this work properly.

There are many translations from English to German nowadays that are totally ignoring this and making their client’s text look staid and old-fashioned. So, as you can see, an English-German dictionary as a be-all-and-end-all in itself is misleading. Like all dictionaries, no matter how good it is, it suffers from a lack of context. A professional translator needs to be not only fluent in their own language, but extremely literate and aware of style changes between target audiences so they can translate within that context. This makes an effective translation service. Effective English to German translations really have little to do with a dictionary.

What other guidelines are there? If you have many translations to undertake to deadlines then you’ll need to be sure your translator is someone who can time-manage and keep commitments. A professional translator should know what will be involved in a job from the first read-through and does not commit to a translation or proofreading unless they can meet the deadline. Better to say ‘no’ at the outset than fail to deliver.

If you want to know more about my English – German translation services please click Translations – Private Clients or Translations – Business Clients