The Elusive Perfect Translation

Why are perfect translation so hard to achieve? For starters what is a perfect translation anyway?

It’s rare that two professional linguists will agree on a single best approach to translation of a body of text. There are typically options and multiple approaches to expressing equivalent meaning in any language. This is intuitively true even to speakers of a single language.

So perfection in translation is relative to the person evaluating the translation. Even when agreement is achieved in the approach to take with a translation there are likely to be compromises and trade-offs.

Then there are possible actual errors in translation that can occur despite processes put in place to minimize them. No human activity can be 100% safe from errors. Translation companies typically don’t advertise this fact (that an error can occur). Still no provider of human translation services can maintain the impossible standard of perfection indefinitely.

perfect translation

Smart translation companies and clients will both be wise to consider the eventual reality of a translation discrepancy. What then? How can the possible negative impact be kept to an absolute minimum?