English Language & LINGUISTI Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer

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Typical translation mistakes



      Which translation mistake type are you?
      Inspired by the kind of psychological test that you commonly find in glossies, look at the translations you have produced so far and determine which are the mistakes you make most frequently.

Then read the suggestions below, which should help you resolve these problems.

And do not forget: Being aware is the first step!

  The problem   Unknown words.
  The solution   a) Before the examination:
Enlarge your vocabulary by reading English extensively. You may also wish to learn translation equivalents with the help of a Lernwortschatz, e.g. the one by Hueber.

b) During the examination:
Try guessing words from context by answering the following questions:

What is the part of speech that should go in the gap?
Is it a neutral, positive or negative word?
What kinds of word could possibly go in the gap? (e.g. verbs of perception, colour adjectives etc.)

Also make use of your knowledge of word constituents and words from other languages that look similar to the one you are looking for.

  The problem   Incorrect German collocations.
  The solution   Translating is also about producing an idiomatic and stylistically appropriate German text. While improving your English, do not forget to keep up your German as well. Therefore read a newspaper or other more or less formal/demanding German texts every now and again.
In addition, take a little break after your first draft and read your translation in one go after a few minutes. This will help you discover awkward-sounding collocations, since you will then be less prone to influence from the English collocations and structures.
  The problem   Spelling mistakes.
  The solution   Become aware of your typical kinds of spelling mistake (e.g. capitalisation or hyphenation) and find out more about them in the Duden or on www.canoo.net.
In addition, proofread your final version of the translation more carefully.
  The problem   Either missing commas - or superfluous ones in the wrong place.
  The solution   Read the rules (yes, there ARE rules!) for the distribution of German commas, either in a copy of the Duden or on www.canoo.net. Comma mistakes do not count very much - but they tend to accumulate.
  The problem   Passages from the original text have not been translated at all.
  The solution   Omissions are a sign that you have not compared the English original and your German translation thoroughly enough. After your first draft, place both texts side by side and check their equivalence sentence by sentence.