Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Talking about translation error or translation related issues is always an interesting topic. The purpose is simple; we can learn from it and thus no repeated error happens when dealing with the same case.

We recently found a unique case for discussion. It is translating the word home based on the context. Home may generally refer to place where we live in and it is correct when we talk about the daily life, where we live in and so on. Say, "My home is green."  This utterance really refers to place where we live in. It can be then translated as "Rumah saya bercat hijau." It is contextually correct that home is synonymous to house. Again, the context is clear as this has a verb and complement after it.

What if we found the word home, standing alone with no context? What should we do to avoid lost-in-translation case? First of all, we have to source some information on the related term if there are some other possibilities that this word may have its own equivalents other than one we used to know. What if this word is used in IT community? Will it be the same case as one the real estate people talk about? In this, we talk about jargon. See jargon for more information. Only certain people know it while some others do not know it. Say, membantai singa mati (killing the dead lion). Only Indonesian translators will know this jargon, while some other people with different background will not know or will slightly know it. We do not talk about this actually. We would like to focus on word home.

In a website translation or localization, home can be generally translated as beranda or awal. There is no single valid reference that it should be translated so. However, most reliable translators (Indonesian translators with an extensive experience in the language industry) agree that home should be translated so as this will refer to the initial page of the website, rather than it refers to a place where one lives in. In the context of website translation, home translated as rumah will surely be out of context. If this should be translated as rumah, when we click on it, the page should be directing us to the topic of house, where people feel comfortable to live in. It is the reason why context should be provided when translating and the translator should be fully aware of this. Before starting to translate, all the necessary references should be prepared or at least, translating while searching should be done to avoid the basic mistake.

In common practice, we will see words home and homepage in a website. What Indonesian words should be equal to them? It is simple. You may decide whether to use beranda or awal. If you have to use beranda, keep it consistent in whole pages. The same thing goes when you use awal. The illustration will be:

home = beranda
homepage = halaman beranda or
home = awal
homepage = halaman awal
Never use beranda and awal at the same page and case as this is categoriized as inconsistent and it may lead the readers to confusion.

We will show you an out-of-context translation of home in one of the international websites that we are sure that it was translated not based on the context. Thus, the website looks weird. See below.
As we discussed above, home in a context of website translation will refer to thing that will redirect us to the first page of the website, thus translating it as Rumah, meaning house is really out of context. On the contrary, beranda or awal should be the best equivalent to it. It is the reason why we strongly suggest you see context when translating. At least, we know what we talk about.

  • If you are unsure of what to translate, never translate it
  • If you have no idea of what to say about a word (you are blind of the context), ask your service user
  • Hire a professional translator, specialized in the relevant industry -in this case, a translator with website translation background. 
Question? Feel free to ask us!


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