Why we need to understand the topic of the text we are translating

As we already know, one word can have several different meanings which will be defined according to the context. For example, the word trial can have one meaning in a legal document about litigation and another meaning in a document about labor relations. What’s more, these meanings shouldn’t be confused with the meaning that the word has in a medical document.

Unfortunately, not all examples are as clear as this one, and in this case, the translator must have vast knowledge of the topic in order to properly translate the document. We have all been in uncomfortable situations where we are concentrated on reading the document and have found a rhythm when suddenly an unintelligible phrase or word makes us put on the brakes.

This phrase is unintelligible to us precisely because the person who wrote the document did not understand it and thus formulated a completely incoherent sentence lacking basic logic. Of course, we can’t all be specialists and translators in different areas at the same time, but we must rely on specialists in the diverse areas of our translations as much as possible in order to clarify questions or doubts. It is important to keep in mind that the client can act as the specialist and help resolve these types of problems as well.