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A-Z of Translation – the letter Z:

Our entry for Z is particularly fitting:

A–Z – It is common practice to put lists in alphabetical order, of course – whether it’s a glossary of technical terms or a list of countries (in the latter case, this approach neatly avoids any suggestion of relative importance/unimportance). The alphabetical order will normally not be the same after translation into another language, so adjustments will be needed. This may involve quite a lot of work in tables or infographics where the items have data associated with them, such as the number of employees at various company locations or sales in different countries – some clients will choose not to re-order the items, just to avoid the extra effort.

Another A-Z scenario is where the first and last letter of the alphabet are used to indicate a wide range of options, i.e. a tour operator boasting that it can sell you a holiday to anywhere from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. If the target language contains no country names starting with z (or indeed uses an alphabet that is completely different), this structure cannot be replicated. One option for the translator would be simply to talk about “a huge range of countries”, or to pick two countries that represent extremes (i.e. a very small country contrasted with a very large one, or a highly urbanised one contrasted with a very rural one).

This once again shows that translators need to be aware of many different aspect of a text and make choices about how best to deal with them.

This blog post completes our A-Z of Translation series. It’s been fun compiling it; we hope you have enjoyed reading it. We’ll now allow ourselves a brief break until the end of the year and then start thinking about a new series!

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