unfoldingWord® Translation Academy
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A Clear Translation

A translation should be clear. That means that someone reading or hearing it can easily understand what it is trying to say. It is possible to see if a translation is clear by reading it to yourself. But it is even better if you read it out loud to someone else from the language community. As you read the translation, ask yourself (or the person that you are reading to) questions like those listed below to see if the translated message is clear. For this section of testing, do not compare the new translation with the source language translation. If there is a problem at any place, make a note of it so that you can discuss the problem with the translation team at a later time.

  1. Do the words and phrases of the translation make the message understandable? (Are the words confusing, or do they tell you plainly what the translator means?)
  2. Do your community members use the words and expressions found in the translation, or has the translator borrowed many words from the national language? (Is this the way your people talk when they want to say important things in your language?)
  3. Does the translation speak well to the audience that you have decided to aim your traslation at? (Remember that young and old people may choose different words and expressions.)
  4. Can you read the text easily and understand what the writer might say next? (Is the translator using a good style of telling the story? Is he telling things in a way that makes sense, so that each section fits with what came before and what comes after? Do you have to stop and read part of it again in order to understand it?)

Additional help:

  • One way to determine if the text is clear is to read a few verses at a time out loud and ask someone listening to retell the story after each section. If the person can easily restate your message, then the writing is clear. For other methods of testing the translation, see Other Methods.
  • If there is a place where the translation is not clear, make a note of that so that you can discuss it with the translation team.