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How to Find the Perfect Translator for Your Economics Translation

Academic carries out research on iPad in public library

Unlike translating emails or recordings of conversations between people, academic translation in the field of economics requires knowledge and command of technical jargon and specialized terminology specific to the fields of economics, finance and business.  In other words, lexicons that apply to specialized areas of expertise (which we’ll call “specialized language”) — including academic and scientific areas of focus — require specialized scientific translation.

Consequently, the primary concern when translating such specialized language is what type of proficiency the translator requires.  Scholars or writers may ask themselves: Does the translation of my manuscript need to be completed by an expert in the field? Should it be performed by a linguist?  Does that linguist have to be a professional translator?

As we will discuss below, professional economics translation should be completed by translators who have all three qualifications: they are experts in the specific niche content; they are familiar with the specific grammar and nuances of language and they are accustomed to formulating sentences and reworking them to read seamlessly in the target language.

With any academic translation, academic expertise, linguistic knowledge, and translation experience are critical in order to produce a high-quality text in the target language.  This “holy grail” is an objective that should be sought in the context of any translation. However, it is especially important in the field of economics, where this combination of specialty knowledge and good writing skills is hard to find.

Particular Challenges Translating Economics Texts

Economics texts, particularly academic articles written in the field, are characterized by long and discursive sentences.  This presents a challenge for translators, who must balance the competing requirements for the translation to be easy to read and true to the source.  Professional academic translators can be particularly deft at addressing this issue. Their studies and experience make them uniquely equipped to break up complex sentences and ideas into digestible sections without oversimplifying them or changing their meaning.

Another issue particular to economics translation comes from English being the dominant language used in the field.  Because most academic research about finance and economics is performed and written in English, English terms are often quite precise, but present issues when translated into other languages.  Consider, for example, the English term “policy,” a term that is widely used in economics texts across a variety of contexts.  In French, the appropriate translation for “policy decision” could be “décision de politique économique, environnementale, financière, etc.” (a decision regarding that particular policy), “décision stratégique” (a decision regarding enterprise management), or “décision de principe” (a decision of public administration).  In order to determine the appropriate term, a translator must have the specialized knowledge and a deep understanding of the piece in order to include the appropriate term.  Instead of a one-for-one substitution of an English word for its French counterpart, the translator must think creatively in order to find the proper term.

The Advantages Of Using an Academic Translator for Your Economics Paper

Professional academic translators are uniquely equipped to handle translations in the field of economics for several reasons.  First, their knowledge of the nuts and bolts of grammar is critical to a successful translation process. Specialized languages may have unique terms, but they still rely on the grammar structures and vocabulary of the language in which they’re written. Technical jargon does not exist in a vacuum; it is derived from the common language in which it is written, and explanations of technical terms must be provided in a language that lay people understand.  Consequently, academic translators (who have a deep knowledge of the vernacular in addition to the technical language) are uniquely qualified to ensure a consistent and high-quality translation. For example, an academic translator will read “price” in English and understand contextually that it could be “prix” if the piece is discussing the market, but “cours” when discussing rate (for example, when discussing the price of oil, “les cours du pétrole” would be appropriate, but “les prix du pétrole” would not).

Academic translators are also uniquely qualified to assist with translation services because the field of economics is constantly evolving.  Since it is both a living language and a technical language, reading economics is often not straightforward. Qualified academic translators note changes in both common language and in the academic jargon and can create a text that is both accurate and current.

Finally, professional academic translation creates a more dynamic and engaging piece as translators can use their deep understanding of the target language to avoid repetition without losing meaning.  Economists frequently use metonymy — calling the Bank of England “the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street” or the government of the United States “the White House.”  Academic translators leverage this knowledge to avoid repeating the same words over and over.  For example, rather than constantly using euro in French, the term la monnaie unique may be substituted.  Further, they will know if the target audience will understand these phrases and if they are appropriate for that audience.

For these reasons, leveraging the unique skills of academic translators and academic proofreaders is particularly advantageous in the field of economics.  Any scholar interested in reaching a broader audience in the increasingly globalized sector of economics should seriously consider investing in professional translation and editing services to improve their writing.

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