Humans created languages to communicate with each other. But there are many aspects of languages that make them complex. As a result, they have to be simplified so they can be understood by people easily. We have various slang words to make the use of language easier. Sometimes, we make changes in languages just to make them shorter. For instance, “how are you?” became “h r u?” But not all the short forms of words and names are informal. There are abbreviations that are also used by officials. For instance, calling the United Nations ‘UN’ is not wrong. You will see the United Nations being referred to as UN in many official documents.
What is an Abbreviation?
An abbreviation is the shortened form of a phrase or word. An acronym is a type of abbreviation that can be pronounced. Initialism are also abbreviations that are only based on the initials of a word. Abbreviations are common in every industry. They are also used by the state in official documents. Some slang words are also abbreviations that end up becoming a part of people’s everyday vernacular. The abbreviations used for international organizations are known all over the world. But the ones used for national associations are only known to the natives of the country.
This goes to show that many abbreviations are specific to certain countries. So, if an American comes across an Indian abbreviation, they won’t be able to figure out what it is referring to. This can be a problem when translating content.
How to Translate Abbreviations?
There are many problems that translators have to tackle on a daily basis. There are no rules to guide them when it comes to certain issues. In such a situation, a company or translator has to look at the context and decide for themselves. One of the questions that translators have to face often is how to translate abbreviations accurately. But there is no general guideline for the translation of abbreviation. The rules can vary from one organization to the next. The difference between the source and target language is another factor that can affect the judgment of a translator. If the source language is closer to the target language, then it will be easier for the translator to figure out the abbreviation.
Any reader can figure out what the UN refers to, but when it comes to specific abbreviations, it will be difficult for the translators and readers to figure out the meaning behind them. Sometimes, even after figuring out what an abbreviation means, translators will have no idea how to translate it into the target language. They can spell out the abbreviation in the native tongue of the readers, but that would be confusing for the audiences. So, what should a person do when they are faced with abbreviations? They should start by forgetting what they know about abbreviations. Each document should be handled in a different way when it comes to translations.
Here is how you can carry out a correct translation of an abbreviation:
Legal or Medical
If the texts to be translated are legal or medical, then they will have industry-specific abbreviations. These abbreviations will already have their translations in different languages, or they will be understandable in their original form. From then on, you will have to figure out whether you need to find their translated version or add them as it is. An acronym translation should follow the same rule. The medical and legal context will help you figure out whether you need the translations of the acronym or add them as they are.
Acronym in Parentheses
When it comes to a company or organization that is not known all over the world, you can translate the full name and then write the acronym in parentheses. You can also add the name of the original language in which the acronym is written. Some experts prefer to provide an explanation of the acronym in English for the benefit of English speakers.
There are abbreviations like the UN for the United Nations that are known all over the world. But names like the United Nations have been translated into every language of the world. So, a translator can add the native names of organizations and then give clarification about the abbreviation used for them in the source language. Translating these terms is the easiest because the audience can understand them easily. Translators don’t have to waste a lot of their time on these abbreviations
Latin abbreviations are used in almost every field of study. They are also very common among English speakers. When it comes to Latin abbreviations, translators don’t have to translate them. They can write the Latin abbreviations as they are. The audience will have no trouble figuring out these common abbreviations as they are used by writers all over the world.
When it comes to the abbreviated form of a job title, figuring out the solution is not simple. Some job titles will have a translated form in the native language of the audience, while some won’t. This is also true for the names of countries and political organizations. It is better to do your own search and figure out the process for each term.
In the corporate world, every business follows a specific set of rules. Some of them like to be a part of the translation process. They provide a style guide to their writers so that every document is published in the right format. They also offer reference guides to the translator for abbreviations. If the translator has any confusion, they can refer to the old publications of the company to figure out how to translate abbreviations.
In English translation, almost every letter of an acronym is capitalized. There are a few exceptions to this rule, like “radar.” But if a translator has to handle other acronyms, they must capitalize every letter.
Why is it Important to Translate Abbreviations?
The purpose of translation is to give the reader a chance at understanding the source content. It connects communities and helps them get over the linguistic barrier. Although people can turn to Google to get the translation of simple words and phrases, only expert human translators can help them with official documents. If we don’t translate abbreviations, it will be impossible for people to figure out what a single word or letter means in a document. By leaving an abbreviation as it is, a translator will create confusion in the minds of the readers.
It is true that the translation of abbreviations can be a very complex process, but it is not impossible to handle. With the right guidelines and help, translators can get over this issue.
By translating abbreviations, we can help people learn about the organizations of other countries. It can help them gain knowledge that otherwise would have been out of their reach. The responsibility of sharing useful information with the audience falls on the shoulders of language experts. Latin abbreviations and words are everywhere, from the medical field to the legal system. It is translators that help students gain an understanding of these complex terms.
So, regardless of the fact that it is a complex process to translate abbreviations, it is a step that every translator should take when the time comes.