Text Analysis, feat. the Text Type Detector

Today, I am going to kick off a new series. And I will introduce a cool little tool to you: The personal Text Type Detector, or T-TD.

I mentioned before that texts have different types. So, what does this mean for translation?
How do you grasp the type of a text? And what do you do to get it right; the transfer of the types of text from one language to another?

In my experience, all texts have three top issues to ponder, three text parameters featuring in every text. First, the author and her/his style and storyline. Second, and somewhat opposed to the first, there are the readers/users and what they should do or how they should react when reading the text. Third, there’s terminology or the literal meaning. This trinity rules every text. But, and actually we must capitalize this BUT, the weight of the three chunks varies a lot between the different types. All parameters are closely related to the purpose of a text.

Text analysis itself is easy. With the T-TD. I feed the text into this mind tool and see where the meter goes. The element that dominates a text is where the needle sticks.

Let’s have an example for easy understanding. One the one hand, take a novel you like. Any novel, say, the favorite sort of book you read for entertainment. Take fantasy, science-fiction, or a crime novel, whatever you prefer. On the other side, put the rent agreement for your apartment. Yak, no one jumps for joy over such a text, I know. But believe it or not, contracts are also texts. A very common and very distinct type of text, really.

So, what is the difference between them? As I see it, in the novel the storyline and the author’s style and thoughts dominate the text. Here, clearly the translator’s task is to stick like glue to the original style, the sentence structure and sometimes even to the exact words. In a different language, of course. This way, the story gets across to the reader with all the emotional and author-specific style like in the original. The needle of the T-TD plunges to extreme left.

On the other side we have your contract. It is a very formal legal text piece. It is important for the translator to know legalese, to match the precisely defined legal formulas and phrases in both languages. The needle in this case points straight up.

These were the first two examples of different text types in short. The series will deal with the above and several other types of text in some more detail. Among them we will see true jewels, such as scientific treatises, user manuals, marketing collateral, and many more.
For each text type I will provide ideas on how to determine it and what to consider before, during or after translation, and of course the T-TD analysis results…

“a word is not the object spoken about”*

*A.Korzybski, 1948


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