insights | 21.09.2015

Types of translation

Types of translation

At Xigen, we have the capacity to deal with a number of different translation types. Categorising the source text we receive from the client is important in our aim to select the best translator for the job. Below is a list of the main types of translation:


These are perhaps the most straightforward texts as translators do not necessarily need any specialised knowledge in order to carry out the work but rather they should focus on producing informative target texts for their readers, whilst staying faithful to the source.


Technical translation can cover a number of different subject matters, including engineering, computing and medicine. Translators who specialise in technical texts often have a background in the field, perhaps as a result of their previous career path. It is imperative that the correct terminology is used as this is what the target audience will expect. Mistranslations can cause serious problems and even be fatal, such as in the case of a user manual for a piece of dangerous machinery.


This covers a range of document types, such as contracts and wills, and often requires the translator to have some knowledge of legal terms in order to produce an accurate translation. Sometimes it may be necessary for the translator to be certified, which means they are authorised to authenticate official translations.


Marketing translation is often referred to as ‘transcreation’ because it is in fact different to regular translation. The distinction is that a brand encompasses more than just words: the overall message it conveys is a combination of what is being said, how it is being said and the context in which it is being said. For a marketing campaign to be successful on an international scale it needs to strike the right cord with its new audience. That means any content needs to provoke the right reaction amongst its readers and imagery must be appropriate for the culture. Failure to ensure these conditions are met could lead to irrelevant, incomprehensible or even offensive translations of the marketing collateral.


This is perhaps the least commercially relevant of all the translation types as it’s quite a niche market and literary translators may choose to devote all their time to it. Anyone tasked with the translation of a book, poem or script, must be confident in the use of literary devices such as metaphor, wordplay and rhyme, and really get to know the style of the author, poet or playwright so that the piece of work engages its new audience in the same way as it does its current one.


The term ‘localisation’ is often used to talk to about website or software translation. This is because it involves the adaptation of the translated text to fit the cultural requirements of the target locale. This means that imagery and colours must engender the appropriate reactions amongst international gamers or visitors to a website. Issues such as Arabic reading from right to left can mean that a whole webpage looks completely different when localised for that market.

As you can see, there are several different types of translation and not all of them call for the same approach, which is something that can be discussed as we prepare the brief for your project. In many of these cases, it is advisable for the source text author to have thought about the translation process in the production of their assets. A good example of this is with website localisation where it is helpful for the dialog boxes to have been increased in size in preparation for the insertion of the translations, which may have expanded the text by a considerable amount.

To learn more about how speaking your customers’ language can increase audience engagement and help drive sales, contact us today for a chat with one of our expert team members.

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