A good translation is essential to communicate an original idea using another language. A translator achieves good translation if they realize the urgency and self-evidence of the original text. In this regard, a good translation is possible when the translated text echoes and focuses on the original message and similarly leaves readers amused and thrilled. The theme of language imprecision becomes a critical aspect of promoting a good translation. Languages are entrenched in social and cultural constructs, influencing people’s accents and interpretations of various words or phrases (Gramling and Warner 82). Consequently, connotation becomes a critical language ideology that enhances the relevance of translation and language precision. It invokes a person’s feelings or ideas about a word in addition to its primary or literal meaning. Essentially, language imprecision determines the type of connotation attached to a particular word or phrase based on cultural language constructs and practices, thus influencing the translation’s rationality.
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A good translation is possible with an exceptional understanding of different languages. Translators should achieve a good translation irrespective of their accents. The translation’s efficacy depends on the expression and exchange of thoughts and ideas without altering the translated text’s original meaning. Notwithstanding, people need to understand that translation is an art, a skill, and a science. As an art, it necessitates the artistic ability to reconstruct the original script into a presentable product to readers who are not familiar with the original version (Gramling and Warner 83). The translation is also a science because it requires complete knowledge of linguistic concepts and the two involved languages’ structures. Besides, it is a skill because a translator must provide a product that cannot be equitable to the target language, but smoothened to eliminate any difficulty in the conversion process. As a result, personal experiences revolving around the concept of language precision play an indispensable role in choosing the right words to deliver the original message within the target readers’ social and linguistic practices.
In my life, I had an experience that taught me the significance of understanding connotations attached to different words by different people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It was during the summer holiday when I visited India with a family. We wanted to enjoy the fascinating Indian culture by going to local historical sites, such as Kumbh Mela and Elephanta Caves. Besides, we wanted to interact with Indians, share ideas, and learn from their culture and languages. Although the majority of Indians speak Hindi, the English language is gaining popularity in India. One of the residents we met at Delhi, Mr. Kumal, told us that Indians are determined to learn English because it is the most used language for cultural, commercial, and scientific exchange globally. However, Mr. Kumal expressed his struggles in learning and speaking English because it sounds funny. Indeed, native speakers, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, find the Indian English comic and sluggish.
I learned that Indians speak many different languages, which possibly leads to their funny English accent. Nevertheless, their accent does not adversely influence their ability to achieve a good translation. The connotations embedded in certain English words are interpreted differently by Indians speaking various languages. For example, in our interactions with some Indians at the Elephanta Caves, one Indian uttered a certain sentence in Telugu, one of India’s languages. I asked what he meant, and his brother said, “He said he is starving.” Surprisingly, another Indian told him, “He said he is hungry, not starving.” We had an in-depth discussion about the connotation and perceptual dialectology emanating from language imprecision. Based on social-cultural contexts, some people may perceive the word “starve” as an elongated period without food that may cause death. The same word may be perceived as temporary hunger for food that can rarely cause death.
The trip helped me learn a vital lesson about translation because people sometimes use imprecise words that may lead to different interpretations. I think it is essential to examine the theme of language imprecision to understand existing language vagueness that may confuse people learning English as a second language. Besides, I cannot discredit the role of social contexts and cultures in influencing a good translation. In our return journey, we used a German-owned airline, Lufthansa. I realized that flight attendants and air hostesses commonly use du instead of sie in their flights. With my little knowledge of the German language, I knew the two words basically mean “you.” However, du is used informally referring to close friends and family members while sie is used formally to address business associates and strangers. I was amazed to hear flight attendants addressing us using du instead of sie. I believe they had their reason for using the informal term, but it raises translation concerns for people upholding formality in business.
A good translation may depend on different elements, which are sometimes beyond the control of translators. Nonetheless, the translators must understand the social contexts, connotations, and perceptual dialectology to decide the choice of words that meet the target group’s expectations while preserving the original meaning. A good translation is only possible when unfamiliar language readers understand the translated text’s original message. If the readers interpret the translated text differently or encounter vague words that cannot be understood, then the translation fails to meet a good translation criterion. It is essential to be precise and understand the cultural and social contexts informing the interpretation of particular words or phrases (Gramling and Warner 95). There is a dire need to bridge the gap left by social psychologists and linguists in addressing language imprecision to create connections between linguistic practices and ideologies, strengthening a good translation in everyday social settings.
Notably, although different factors, such as social contexts, linguistic ideologies, and language practices play a critical role in influencing the translation’s rationality, it is possible to achieve a good translation. Translators should concentrate on connotations attached to some words based on various social contexts to address the language imprecision problem. Significantly, they must understand their target readers to use precise words that eliminate any form of ambiguity in interpreting the meaning of the original text correctly. During the trip to and from India, my experiences taught me that people sometimes might have mixed feelings or ideas about a particular word. For example, from a Telugu Indian’s perspective, it is alright to use the word “starve” instead of “hungry” while it is a translation imprecision from another Indian’s viewpoint. I also found it irrational to be addressed as du although we were strangers in a business context. Therefore, a good translation is possible when social psychologists and linguists bridge the gaps hampering the connections between linguistic practices and ideologies to eliminate the possibility of language imprecision based on social contexts.
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Gramling, David J., and Chantelle Warner. “Whose ‘Crisis in Language’? Translating and the Futurity of Foreign Language Learning.” L2 Journal, vol. 8, no. 4, 2016, pp. 76-99.