What are the 4 Types of Translation?

    Danilo Coviello

    If you have been recently looking into translation services or becoming a professional translator, you may have been wondering are the different types of translation?

    This article will explain the 4 types of translation and how they work. However, you must also remember that translation is a broad field, meaning you could break down the different types of translation into dozens of types if you wanted to.

    That’s why, once we have taken a look at the 4 most common different types of translation, we’ll also look at some other types that may be of interest to you.

    The 4 Most Common Different Types of Translation

    The four most common types of translation services that we see are:

    • Literary translation
    • Professional translation
    • Technical Translation
    • Administrative translation

    Below, we explain all of these in further detail, so you can get a better understanding of what they are.

    Literary Translation

    As the name Literary translation may suggest, this type is all about translating literary works like stories, poems, plays, etc. (see for example Kindlepreneur.)

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    This type of translation is often considered the hardest or most comprehensive, as the translator not only needs to get the meaning of the words right, but also the context, sound, and feeling behind the words.

    By this, we’re also talking about knowing the culture of both languages well enough to translate any humor, emotions, and any types of similar elements of a piece of work.

    As you can imagine, this requires extensive knowledge and experience. Plus, it can still be hard even then, as in some cases, there are no suitable translations. For example, in poetry, when the rhyming of words or puns is used for additional wordplay, it often does not work in the target language.

    Professional Translation

    The next type of translation is professional translation. Any type of translations that are used for professional purposes, we would usually fit into this category.

    Some common examples would be a medical translation or a legal translation.

    Here, the main goal is usually to get all the information translated as accurately as possible. Unlike with a literary translation, documents won’t have any wordplay such as puns or rhymes, making it a little easier for the translator.

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    However, accuracy is crucial for any type of professional translation, especially for industries where the consequences of inaccuracies could be huge, such as medical or law with medical translation and legal translation.

    Like the ones named above, more complex industries will often also require a specialist to ensure accuracy. Of course, this does depend on the subject matter, but the more complex the source language, the more educated the translator must be.

    This is especially the case if there is a lot of business jargon used or a certified translation required.

    Technical Translation

    Technical translations are also technical, as the name suggests. Here, we’re usually talking about translating technical content for businesses such as:

    • Engineering Documents
    • Instruction Manual
    • User guides
    • Technical Training

    These types of documents will usually need technical translation services because the translator has to understand the topic well to ensure that they can tell the user what they should do accurately.

    Not only this, but they also have to understand the formatting requirements, and sometimes the images have to be changed so that they can be understood in the target language.

    If you require a technical translation, it’s also crucial that you choose a company or transcriptionist who is comfortable and is experienced with your particular industry.

    The content of a technical translation is usually quite complicated, so if your business ever needs some documents like the ones mentioned above translated, this is the translation type you’ll be looking for.

    Administrative Translation

    The administrative translation is a translation type used for the documents and management texts of organizations like corporate or regional businesses.

    Administrative translations can be considered a sub translation type of professional translations. However, not all professional translations are administrative, so it doesn’t quite work, vice-versa.

    Other Types of Translations

    As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are endless ways you can break down the world of translation into different types.

    Here are some other translation types that we have not yet mentioned but are also quite common:

    • Machine translation
    • Judicial Translation
    • Website Translation
    • Script Translation
    • Multimedia Localization
    • Financial translation
    • Commercial Translation (Also overlaps with professional translation)
    • Legal translation
    • Medical translation

    If you would like to read more on these, we have separate service pages where we explain the translation process for each of these different types.

    Why Are Machine Translations Not Common?

    If you have read the list above, you may be wondering why machine translations are not so common. And, there is a reason for that, which is machine translations are highly inaccurate.

    You’ve probably used Google translate before and have noticed how badly the sentences are built when translating an entire sentence.

    Machine translations can be okay if you are only translating one or two words. However, they still require a lot of research to go with it as sometimes the software will spit out incorrect words.

    As you can imagine, most professions that need translations need entire documents translated, so this kind of translation is not suited, particularly for legal translation such as judicial translation or other document translation such as financial translation.

    For professional purposes, we will need a human translation, which are the options discussed in the previous sections.

    What Type of Translation Are You Looking For?

    Are you looking for translation services? If you are, then we’re here to help, as we provide everything from general translation services to medical translation services for your documents. Our services are also available in over 150 different languages.

    We can offer such a variety of translation services because we are an international translation agency with a huge network of translators.

    We have also been trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands like Forbes, IMDb, and Amazon.

    If you are not quite sure yet what type of translation you need, we are also happy to help you when you request a quote. We can guide you in terms of choosing what translation service is the right option for you.

    You can request a quote here, and we get back to you within just one hour with a quote for our translation service.

    List of Common Translation Industries

    We also went and grabbed the list of common industries that we translate documents into so that you can read more on those. However, if you don’t see your industry, don’t worry, as our large network of translators will likely have someone who can translate the document.

    After choosing us, we search our network of translators to find the most suited translator for your project that has the best-suited knowledge and experience. This is why we deliver much better results than companies that deliver generic or general translation services when a specialist is needed.

    For more information, check out our general translation service page.

    Final Thoughts

    That’s it! We hope you have enjoyed our article on the 4 types of translation. If you would like to learn more about our translation service, feel free to do so.

    And if you have any questions, you can always get in contact with us.

    Types of Translation: Frequently Asked Questions

    Lastly, we wanted to answer some frequently asked questions about translation.

    What Is a Commercial Translation?

    A commercial translation is a document translation where the translator must have specialized skills. This often crosses over with the professional translation that we discussed earlier, meaning industries like law or medical are extremely common.

    However, it is also common that the translator must have knowledge specific to the business and understand technical jargon.

    Common examples of documents that need a commercial translation include company accounts, reports, and similar documents.

    I Have Custom Requirements – What Should I Do?

    If you feel that the translation types in this article do not meet your needs, then just get in touch with us and explain your needs. Perhaps you have a complex technical translation or a time-sensitive legal translation, we can help. Just

    We know that the translator must understand your goals for the project to become a success. That’s why before we start translating anything, we have a project manager who makes sure we understand your goals.

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    How Can I Become a Professional Translator?

    There are various ways you can become a professional translator. We recommend reading our article on becoming a professional document translator in 5 steps.