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A-Z of Translation – the letter V:

Not easy to find an entry for the letter V, but we got there:


Vox populi – Translators are often tempted to take a rather formal or academic approach to their work. As professional linguists, they can be purists – dictionaries and grammar guides are their best friends, the commercial world is not their natural habitat. Most business users of translations, on the other hand, are focused on outcomes and more relaxed about the finer points of language.

In our view, real-world usage should normally be the benchmark for translations. Martin Luther, who produced the first complete German translation of the Bible, said that when translating, one should “look at the mouths of the people”, i.e. be guided by how real people talk. That’s still a very good principle.

The bottom line is that some translators need to step outside their formal comfort zone a bit and be more inspired by how people really use language in everyday contexts. It’s about crafting real-world texts for real-world people.

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