Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Translating a word or phrase is not merely about finding the right word-to-word or phrase-to-phrase equivalent, so the SL and TL can eventually match. Theoretically, some approaches should be decided and applied and should be relevant to the current text handled. None of weird translation or even mistranslation is made during translating.

Currently, we found a very weird case when reviewing other linguist's work. We do not know for sure by which approach this linguist handled the text, but as we have worked on so many Indonesian projects since 2009, we know for sure which one is correct and incorrect, which one is relevant and irrelevant.

We found that the linguist failed to transform the on xxxx basis expression into correct target language as it was literally translated as pada basis xxxx. We do understand that on can be equivalent to pada  and basis can be equivalent to basis and the structure was then inverted to follow the Indonesian rules. From the grammar-based-translation perspective, this is correct. None is wrong, but wait! This is not correct at all based on the context. Further, good translation should be based on the context as well. Simply put, best approach (at least) to apply should be contextual-based-translation approach, so we have to go beyond the target language grammar constraint to arrive at the correct meaning. This is permissible.

Look at the list of phrases we managed to record below:

  1. on a regular basis

  2. on a monthly basis

  3. on a daily basis

Literally, each was translated as:

  1. pada basis reguler

  2. pada basis bulanan

  3. pada basis harian

It sounds super weird as we never see this kind of structure in Bahasa Indonesia as well. Good translation should always be adapted to the locale dialect and customs or habit. These translations already failed to meet the basic standard of good Indonesian translation. The fatal mistake is this structure never exists in the correct Indonesian daily conversation.

The best way to avoid this mistake is by finding their synonymous expressions; what phrases can replace them actually. Further speaking, this on xxx basis is a pattern or schedule for proceeding. Please refer to for small insight. The expressions can be processed as follows: 

  1. on a regular basis can be replaced with regularly, so it can be directly translated as secara berkala, secara rutin, secara teratur, etc.

  2. on a monthly basis can be replaced with monthly, so it can be directly translated as bulanan, secara bulanan, setiap bulan, etc.

  3. on a daily basis can be replaced with daily, so it can be directly translated as harian, secara harian, setiap hari, etc.

Again, see the context and pick one that best suits the context of your text. If you say that best approach to generate best Indonesian translation is from A to B or B to A or even Z to A, that does not matter at all. All you have to do is to combine all the possible approaches that will apply to the text you are handling. Do not forget to search over internet resources.

If you encounter the same issue or have difficulty in finding the right words to present in your translation, feel free drop us a message and let us help you at the earliest time.


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