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The difficulties of table text translation in the absence of context

Translators have often to deal with table texts in their work. These are various consignment notes, customs documentation, product catalogs, and lists of goods, for instance. The lack of context is the main difficulty in translating such texts.


мебель, фурнитура

Quite recently our bureau employees completed a project of translating the customs documentation for kitchen furniture from Italian. As the work was progressing, the translators faced difficulties with the accuracy of translation of certain terms from Italian, as it was difficult to understand their exact meaning out of the context. As for word abbreviations, they are especially difficult for translating. Technical abbreviations are the most numerous and, perhaps, the most complicated means of shortening the text. One has often to encounter them when making written translations. The main goal of abbreviations is the economic use of a written text. However, the advantages of such a thrifty text are obvious insofar the abbreviations are clear both to the author and the translator. Serious questions can arise even with use of well-known and frequently used abbreviations. Authors of the Italian technical literature often use various abbreviations, for example:

LACC - varnishing
MT - running meter
MECC (meccanismo) - mechanism
CERN (cerniera) - (door) hinge

Generally, the correct translation can be performed only when the subject matters of the document is taken into consideration. For example, the Italian word "cassettone" has several meanings, among them "сommode" and "caisson" (ceiling design element), so if we translate a delivery note for furniture we will understand that, most likely, it is a commode even without a context.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to define a word meaning based on the subject matter of the translated text. Many words have multiple meanings within the same theme. For example, the Italian word "colonna" can be translated into Russian as a column, cabinet column, rack, etc. As for furniture, the word "anta" can be translated as a façade or a door. Again, it is difficult to understand the meaning of a word without the context. The image of the product may become in aid here if it is a case of translating the product catalog, or it may be worth checking details with the customer of translation.

When translating a text, the translator must fully and accurately convey the author`s thought not transferring the specific features of the Italian original into the Russian text.


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