- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 30/07/2014
- bad debts, English, traducción, traducir, traductor, Translation
Bad debt management. Anyone with business experience knows that this expression means the management of bad debts, and that a bad debt is an amount of money owing to a company which is unlikely to be paid.
Yet we have seen this translated into Spanish as mala gestión de deudas, which simply means bad management of debts. There is nothing in the English syntax which tells us that the adjective refers to “debts” rather than to “management”. Only specialist knowledge can resolve issues like this, and the world of translation is full of them. So what can the translator do?
One approach is to specialise; only translate in subject area which you are very knowledgeable about. In fact almost all translators do this to a greater or lesser extent, limiting their work to legal or medical texts, for example. But nobody is omniscient and even these fields are extremely broad. Sooner or later you come across something which is ambiguous or anomalous. So you need to go back and ask your client for clarification. One of the biggest failings of professional translators is their reluctance to ask when they don’t know!
But perhaps the most important skill in such cases is being able to recognise ambiguity in the first place. And that takes years of practice.