To translate well, the golden rule is always to translate into your native language. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand this, and still believe that anyone who speaks or knows a language is qualified to work in the language translation industry.
Here are some of the most common errors which appear in English to Spanish translations. I hope you find it helpful, and that you will bear these in mind, taking care not to commit them yourself.
• Names of people from a country and dates: the names of months in Spanish are written in lower case – as are the seasons and days of the week. So, it’s incorrect to say “en Septiembre 7, 2001” (on September 7, 2001) or “ciudadanos Portugueses” (Portuguese citizens).
• Commas before conjunctions: In English, the Oxford Comma (see Lauren’s blog from last week) replaces the conjunction to a certain extent, but not in Castillian. An example of incorrect use: “Casas, edificios, y barrios” (Houses, buildings, and districts).
• Hyphen use: In English the hyphen carries connotations of union. The Spanish hyphen, however separates rather than joins. So, sometimes it must be omitted when translating into Spanish. We would say, for example, “enfrentamiento Madrid-Barcelona” (Madrid-Barcelona clash) but “alianza francogermana” (Franco-German alliance).
• The passive voice isn’t used as much in Spanish as in English, so to ensure a more natural translation, it should sometimes be avoided. The most appropriate translation of “The employees will be paid” would be “se les pagará a los empleados” and not “los empleados serán pagados.”
• Literal reconstruction of idiomatic phrases (set phrases, metaphors, metonymy, etc.) For example the English expression “barking up the wrong tree” (which means something like “estar equivocado”). Or the expression “thick as two short planks,” whose [...]