Nowadays, English is the most common language in international communication as well as on the internet. It is also the language that is taught in some universities in Vietnam. Many students realize it is necessary to study English to meet the demand of the modern society. However, it is not easy for Vietnamese who have never traveled overseas to have a great command of English. Translation may be a difficult task, especially for those who have a little knowledge of English and foreign cultures or a specific industry related topic.
Some common mistakes in English-Vietnamese translation:
Using tenses: Every tense in English all has its own formulas and usages. Due to the lack of basic grammar knowledge, people may make mistakes in sentences. For example: when he came, we were have dinner. In this case, have must be conjugated to having.
Using words: to choose the words which are correct and appropriate with the context can be complicated for some Vietnamese when speaking or writing in English. In order to avoid this sort of mistake, people need to acquire a large word bank, synonyms, acronyms and meaning of words. Here are some examples:
– Grammar: there are many different structures in English. The only possible way to use them properly and correctly is to learn them by heart. Otherwise, you would make grammar mistakes in sentences. For instance:
There has some books on the desk.
There are some books on the desk.
How wonderful the weather!
How wonderful the weather was!
He prefers tea than coffee
He prefers tea to coffee
Translation word by word: in doing translation word by word English – Vietnamese that makes sentences become wordy, incomprehensible and ridiculous for sometimes.
‘Mẹ tôi không bao giờ không làm gì cả’ à My mother never doesn’t do anything. Actually, the original sentence means ‘my mother never stops working’
2. “Although my grandfather is old, but he is still strong.” The structure in Vietnamese is correct ‘mặc dù…nhưng’ but if it is translated to English word by word, then the grammar in English is wrong.
The picture above illustrates some mistakes in translation due to using google translation (a major no-no for professional results!).
There are causes behind translation mistakes:
Word comprehension and denotation: English vocabulary is extremely rich. Besides synonyms, there are homophones, homonyms. Plus, a word may have many meanings behind them which would be suitable for different context. Therefore, people may find a lot of difficulties in comprehending every word. This may lead to misunderstanding content then wrong translation.
The influence of the mother tongue: due to the limitation of vocabulary and foreign cultures or specific knowledge, it is obvious that Vietnamese marketers will translate word by word. This makes sentences wordier and the readers might misinterpret the content which is meant to convey the information.
How to avoid translation mistakes:
Read, read and read: set up your time to read books, newspapers every day. It is not just reading for information or skimming through the text but reading intensively. In doing so, not only will you learn more words, structures as well as writing styles in English but also consolidate your knowledge in culture and specific industry fields. The more you read, the fewer mistakes you will make.
Last but not least: Practice makes perfect, it is the best way to improve your translation skills to reduce mistakes you make. Practice also helps you learn new words and find differences between English – Vietnamese structures of sentences. Therefore, it would make your translation appear smoother and more fluent.
Mistake in English translation at Da Nang airport
Mistake in English translation on a menu – BBQ missing beef