The importance of diacritical marks in translations

The importance of diacritical marks in translations

Many of the confusions arising in written, verbal or online communication stem from the absence or the incorrect use of diacritical marks. These are the distinctive marks of different alphabet letters. They can be omitted and then the respective word may lose or, worse, change its meaning.

The same is valid for translations. When diacritical marks do not appear in the source text, the difficulty of translating it increases. Diacritical marks eliminate confusions or vagueness from the text, considerably facilitating the translator’s work. When diacritical marks are missing from a word, the translator must figure them out, thus wasting precious time which would have allowed them to finish the translation faster.

However, the alphabets of the world are numerous and varied. Official languages often eschew these diacritical marks because they are often hard to remember or use in translations. For instance, Nordic languages, which are very consonantal, contain diacritical marks that, at least at European level, are not used in writing. Other examples may be ancient languages which are not used anymore, such as Proto-Celtic or the ancient languages from the Netherlands. Generally, diacritical marks are omitted for the sake of convenience. However, if the situation requires it, it is recommended to use them.

When we are discussing old languages of the world, such as Chinese, which contains numerous symbols and many alphabets, there is no longer the problem of the diacritical marks, obviously leaving room for other difficulties, such as semantic or calligraphy issues. The same applies to Arabic, which has other specific calligraphic and semantic properties. It has many dialects and subdialects used in vast territories with socio-geographic boundaries that do not correspond to linguistic boundaries.

Therefore, diacritical marks are an important aspect of translations, which must not be overlooked for the sake of convenience or for other reasons. They ensure the success of the translation each time they are used correctly.

By | 2017-12-18T11:57:36+00:00 December 18th, 2017|Articles|0 Comments