The Yin and Yang of Translation

The Philosophy

Yinyang is a Chinese philosophy derived from Taoism (Daoism). Although its conceptual meaning has been interpreted differently by many school of thoughts, it is safe to say that Yin and Yang is all about the balance of two opposite attributes that complement each other. In this article, we will discuss how a great piece of translation should contain such balance. We want to share our two pillars, which are the secret of high-quality translation.

The Language Knowledge

First and foremost, the language is a critical factor in translation profession. Without language knowledge, it is not possible to translate, let alone reach the desired quality. It’s true that a native can communicate their own language fluently, but not everyone has the language knowledge profound enough to produce a good translation work. It’s not only about speaking, listening, reading and writing, high quality translation works are usually produced by those linguists who possess a strong suit of syntaxes and pragmatic knowledge. They are able to translate the source language to the target language by adopting correct grammar, proper word choices and make the target language beautifully arranged as well as efficiently communicated.

The Cultural Knowledge

The Yin and Yang of TranslationThe translation work would be lifeless and stiff if the linguist does not have the cultural knowledge of both the source language and target language. There are so many word choices, adjectives and adverbs to use in translation. In order to choose the most appropriate word that best expresses the source language’s intention, the linguist must have enough cultural background or knowledge to convey all the sense and meaning from one language to another. Context-wise, translators should possess at least basic knowledge of the way of life, religion, food, politics and so on. This allows them to understand the source language deeper and thus know exactly what and how to translate into the target language.

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Why the Yin and Yang?

Throughout analyzing our work and creating our content we do thorough research. We asked our linguists about the essentials of a good translation times and times again. These two features come up every single time when we ask about a certain language. It doesn’t matter if it is Chinese Simplified, Burmese or Japanese. The natural balance and gracious flow of a professional translation comes from these two factors – language and culture intertwined into the perfect shape of a Yin and Yang.