Fidelity vs. Transparency in Translation

As translation is spreading widely in all the fields, it is necessary to make sure that the translated work is good in quality. The main focus of the translator is changing the source language (SL) into the target language (TL) without changing the meaning of the content. There should be some rules to check the work quality. There are some organizations that provide certification for the translators, but there are some factors that check the translated work. Two main factors are described below that determine the translation quality. These two things which are thought to be ideal to check the translation quality is Fidelity and Transparency.

What does fidelity mean?

In simple words, fidelity means faithfulness. It means to be loyal to the work you are attached with. The translator concentrates on translating the given text without adding or deleting any information to that text. The translator is not supposed to subtract anything from the SL either it is vital or not. On the other hand, it should have the same meaning if talk about without intensifying or decreasing the main design. Such translations that fulfill the criteria described above are known as faithful translations. It depends upon the translator who is either committed to his work or not.

What does transparency mean?

Transparency means how the translated document looks to the client. The time anyone reads the text, they should not feel as it is a translated content from any other language. It should look like a newly created content that is written in that language. It depends upon the translator’s skills about the target language. It is good for him to translate in a language he is aware of than to choose the language he had learned.

How these factors affect a translation?

Both the fidelity and transparency are the factors that have been treated as highest ideals in human translation, for thousands of years; even until now. Translation jobs form professional groups for translation and freelancers, these qualities are considered top guidelines to achieve successfully translated work with no ambiguity.  Localization and globalization helped a lot to make audiences to understand the design of any human translation project. The level of transparency and fidelity is always the best way to convey the message of source text to the client; with no little misunderstanding at the end of the target demographic.

Often, these ideas relate to each other. A 17th-century French critic Ergo observed that some translations like, women could be beautiful and faithful, not both simultaneously. In other words, translated content may have more transparency and less fidelity or vice versa, never both at high amounts. Almost every professional translation company or translation service agency knows, fidelity comes with the faithfulness of the translated text to the source text, and transparency means comprehensibility of the translation that refers to audience’s cultural perspective.

The translation that contains a high level of fidelity as known as faithful translations; on the other hand, that meets the other standard are considered as idiomatic translation. Both the factors are not mutually exclusive; keep the context intact. A variable multitude of different measures and paradigms can be used to check the faithfulness of the translated work, like historical or social context, literary qualities, usage and function of text, its type, subject and precision of the original text.

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