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5 Different Types of Translations

Translations can be divided into two main categories: translation and interpretation. However, in these two groups, further subcategories can be identified, based on the type of source texts, as well as the translator’s competencies required for translation.

We can therefore distinguish:

  • general translations;
  • specialised translations (including legal, financial or medical translations);
  • certified translations;
  • literary translations;
  • automated translations.

General translations

Ordinary translations refer to content whose translation does not require specialist knowledge in any particular field. There is no specialised terminology in such texts. We come into contact with this translation type every day when browsing websites, playing games, using the internet and mobile applications, watching foreign TV programs, or reading the daily press.

Specialised translations

Specialised translations relate to content requiring the knowledge of specialist terms and the context of the source text. These translations are an important segment of translators’ activities, contributing to the development of knowledge and science around the world. Specialised translations include scientific texts, as well as medical, technical and legal documents.

A special kind of translation is the literary translation. It requires the translator not only excellent language skills but also proficient interpretation and literary skills. Some of the key elements in literary translation include the style of the text, its idioms, rhythm, and sound (using onomatopoeias or alliterations), which can be difficult to translate into a foreign language.

Certified translations

Certified translation services are required for official documents, acts, contracts, and diplomas, i.e. all documents which are translated for institutions and companies. Such texts are translated by sworn translators (or certified translators in countries where there is no profession of a sworn translator) who certify authenticity with their stamp and signature. It is important that every part of the text is translated extremely precisely. The role of sworn/certified translators is currently very important due to globalisation.

Literary translations

A literary translator usually translates texts from a foreign language to his or her native language and is, in a way, the co-creator of the final text. Literary translation requires the translator not only excellent language skills but also proficient interpretation and literary skills. Some of the key elements in literary translation include the style of the text, its idioms, rhythm, and sound (using onomatopoeias or alliterations), which can be difficult to translate into a foreign language.

The status of literary translators varies in different countries. In the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany, the translator of any published copyrighted works is referred to as a literary translator. On the other hand, in Poland, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, such status is assigned only to translators of fictional works.

Automated translations

Automated (or machine) translations are based on the use of special computer algorithms. Currently, it is not possible to leave work solely to the algorithm. Translators are always involved in the process in order to verify the text and correct any errors. However, this branch of computer linguistics has great development potential and has many important applications. They can be helpful e.g. for mute people.