Awareness about translation errors



CAMPELLO, Mônica Conte [1]

CAMPELLO, Mônica Conte. Awareness about translation errors. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 02, Vol. 02, pp. 126-144. February 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


The lack of knowledge of the mother tongue and the foreign language as well as the lack of mastery on the subject to be treated can generate a disorder in the exercise of translation, producing an unsatisfactory result. It is necessary, therefore, that the translator is familiar with the lexicon and all the properties of the respective languages in order to satisfactorily develop the translation work.  In view of this, this article aims to make translation professionals aware of the need for knowledge of both the mother tongue and the foreign language with regard to the lexicon, sociocultural aspect, grammar, spelling, semantics, as linguistic aspects that correctly interconnected contribute to cohesion and textual coherence as a final product for a perfect result of the work so that all its content is intelligible. The lack of this commitment to the correction of the languages in question implies negligence that does not correspond to the seriousness with which the translation work should be developed. If, perhaps, there is a lack of sufficient training or information, the awareness of professional responsibility must be manifested in order to provide all the necessary knowledge that is in line with the translation practice. In order to achieve this awareness objective, a qualitative bibliographic research will be carried out based on the questions related to the errors of the translation about “how” they occur and “where” they come from, as to topics of great relevance that will be focused through examples of linguistic rules, illustrations of common errors and appropriate corrections for better understanding of what is intended to be emphasized. As a result, it will be possible to recognize the measures necessary to achieve a reliable translation under the topics of relevance in the translation process as a relevant vocabulary, adaptation between languages, textual revision, which at the end produce a good quality text that presents a syntactic and semantic relational balance capable of clearly communicating its message.

Keywords: Translation. Errors. Languages. Lexicon. Text.


In translation work, the lack of knowledge of the mother tongue and the foreign language is an element harmful to its full and effective development. Translation is a linguistic tool that requires excellent knowledge of the languages involved in this work. Its perfect development will depend on familiarization not only with the lexicon of languages, but with its cultural content, its customs, its levels of applicability, its grammaticality; finally, with all its intrinsic aspects in order to transmit information to its reader/listener in an intelligible way. What is meant to mean cannot be contorted by inadvertently applied words, phrases, etc. A prior and wealthy knowledge about all the requirements for the satisfactory and effective execution of this work is necessary: development of the theme, presentation of the basic idea, delimitation of the focus of the research, the meme situation within the context of its work area.

The translator must have mastery on the subject to be treated, have a good knowledge of the language of the author of the text, be able to identify and differentiate graphic and sonic elements between the words of the languages in use that tend to lead to a correct applicability of the meaning that is intended to be transmitted, recognize the orthographic, synthetic and grammatical properties of both languages in order to be able to form diversified phrasal styles pertinent to their formal structure. That is, a translator should be aware that his work requires a multipurpose exercise in which he comes to recognize himself as a teacher, a reviewer, a grammarian, a copywriter able to create as varied texts as possible – essays, reports, compositions, articles, etc. – from the original text. A translator is not just a translator.


The objective of this work is to raise awareness among the translation professional about the need to improve the global knowledge of their native language and the language they will translate. For this, it is interesting to place it within a specific perspective of the translation area: the errors of the translation. How do these occur? Where do they come from? Translating simple, short text is not that simple a task. Most of the time, a two-word phrase can create immense difficulty when trying to translate it.

Figure 1 – High Five

Source: WIRED (2008)

For example: “High five”. There is a great tendency to translate literally. The expression High five is based on the notions of High – (no) high, and five – (representing) the five fingers of the hand. An illustration would resolve any doubts regarding the real meaning of that expression. Observe the figure of Jason Lee: The high five is a variation of Give me five which means that a person offers the five fingers of the hand together with the palm to touch the flat hand of the other that was previously raised waiting for the touch; thus, the hands raised in the air touch each other in a gesture of celebration for some achievement. Therefore, the best translation according to popular Brazilian Portuguese would be: “Toca aqui!”. It is necessary to have a knowledge of regionalisms – cultural trends, dialects, slang. A literal translation is not something that (at least is expected) applies to professional translators. It is understood, therefore, that even before thinking about translating it is extremely important to know the structures of the languages ​​involved in this process and to learn to use them.

There are very serious situations related to the area of translation that can damage the reputation of a given institution due to a misinterpretation of loose words or complete phrases, idioms, in which there is a bad job vocabulary corresponding in the second language. It is essential that one has the ability to re-seek various meanings that can fit perfectly with the context without hurting the idea of what is intended to be transmitted. The following is an excerpt that highlights a striking incident in the area of simultaneous translation:

“If you don’t have a coup de pied aux fesses”. Never before in the history of Brazil has a French expression caused such repercussions as that used by FIFA’s general secretary, Jèrôme Valcke, to say that the country needs to advance in the works for the 2014 World Cup. Translated literally, the words of leader would be like “kicking your ass”, and Valcke himself made a point of saying that his sentence was misinterpreted. […] “This is an idiom. You can’t translate word for word. If you try this way it would be ‘kick yourself in the ass’. The idiom, however, means ‘to strive’. In the context he used, ‘accelerating the pace’ goes well, ”explained the teacher. (ESPN Radio Estadão, 2012)

Similarly, subtitling professionals should be as careful with the quality of translations and the techniques used for their applicability. Subtitles should be simplified, considering their perfect synchrony and should act as an adaptation of the dialogues for a perfect understanding of the plot. See translation errors in subtitles for a paid channel:

“Grounded For Life” on Fox

Original Speech: Get that done!

Proper Translation: Finish this!

Channel Translation: Get the doll!

(Detail: the characters are in the middle of the street carrying pipes and there is no doll in the scene.)

The translation was probably done by ear, with no script to follow, and the translator understood “doll” instead of “done”. The lapse of hearing would not have been so serious if the translator had not made the much more serious mistake of not suspecting that it does not make sense in context. In fact, nothing justifies that. [sic] (CARVALHO, 2007)


A responsible translator should be aware of the need for global knowledge of the mother tongue and, for this, must have previously dedicated himself to an exhaustive study either through free courses, extension or undergraduate courses and also postgraduate courses that direct him to his specific interest. In this sense, you must know the language in all its morphological, sintactic, semantic, linguistic structure, and likewise know the language to which it translates in order to develop a reliable translation work.

According to Silveira, a translator devoid of the knowledge essential to the perfect execution of his works is at the level of mediocrity, and can, in this degree of intelligence, translate a popular bestseller, but only a competent translator will be able to preserve the taste of classics such as Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy. “The success of such a translation will depend on the degree of knowledge you have of your own mother tongue and your ability to find, in it, the colloquial and idiomatic expressions corresponding to those with which you have to exist in the foreign text” (Silveira, 2004, pp. 26, 37).

Almeida (2004), says that “some translations are so poorly made that the impression that the reader has is that the translator has no knowledge of our language”, based on the technical book PCWorld Excel© 4.0 for Windows, by John Walkenbach and David Maguiness that was translated by a translator from the computer area:

Command options in a drop-down menu with ellipses (three periods) after producing a dialog frame if you select this command. Since dialogboards are prevalent in Excel, it’s helpful to you for now to understand how to work with them efficiently.

The technicality of a text does not justify any intelligibility, because even professionals inserted in the said area aware of the program in question could not understand the highlighted text in which there is a full proof that the respective translator does not know the meta language. Consequently, the right trend for this type of professional is to disappear from the labor market, thus losing the opportunity to be invited to provide other related services.

Figure 2 – The difficulties of the bad and the good translator

Source: Almeida (2004)

According to Almeida (2004), “most easily detected translation errors are caused by the lack of what would be one of the most essential ingredients for a translator: knowledge of the source language”. He illustrates this reality from a cartoon republished by Folha de São Paulo in 1996 in which Princess Diana and Lisa Marie Presley appeared sitting in a waiting room of the Court of Judicial Separation, as they were about to separate from their respective husbands the Prince of Wales and Michael Jackson. The figure shows the dialogue between the two characters in the cartoon. Princess Diana sighs and says, “It’s not easy living with a queen,” to which Lisa Presley comments, “Tell me about it.” In the following terms the translation was made: “It is hard to live with a queen”, having as answer the following sentence: “Tell me about it”. The mood of the cartoon resided exactly in the word “queen” which denoactively means “queen” and connotatingly means “homosexual” so that the word used by both had different meanings – literally Princess Diana’s queen mother-in-law and figuratively queen the husband inside out of Marie Presley – each revealing her feelings about the difficulty in living with a queen, being Marie Presley’s words an expression of true irony. The purpose of the cartoon in manifesting comicity could not be achieved because the translator not knowing the idiomatic expression “Tell me about it” that most closely approximates our interjection “I say it”, and not even worrying about making sure the translation he made due to the lack of meaning that it evidenced.


Idiomatic expressions reveal much of this need to be aware of the formal and informal lexicon of the languages involved in the translation process with their peculiar characteristics. In this aspect, not only the standard norm of the language is included, but also the popular norm to which many translators do not give due importance because they consider only the first holder of a status position, disregarding that many texts develop the language of the people who mostly lack knowledge about normative grammar or the cultured norm, precisely because they do not belong to a cultural elite; develop a simple language, of everyday life, without formalities that does not require correct application of the language since what matters is to communicate and if it can communicate, there is no need to “adorn the peacock”, hence the argument: “Did you understand? So that’s good!”

In this parameter, the language is rich in presenting its simple side in such a comprehensive way, as Araújo (2008, p. 4) explains about the “multidialetalism of various orders (social, geographical, situational, historical)”, emphasizing the possibility of communication between diversified users of the same language. If this is the case for the purpose of communication between speakers of the same language in which if one does not know the linguistic particularities of the other, there can be no logical and perfect communication, the more one will say of a translation in which people so different from different languages need to know what the other wants to communicate.

For this, another aspect of great importance between two pairs of languages is highlighted here: false cognatos or false friends. The following illustrations refer to the translation of texts from the medical field, alluding, therefore, to the importance of studying the terminology that guides the translator to learn about the specific vocabulary of the area of knowledge with which he will operate.

False cognatos or false friends are called “similar words in two languages, but of totally different meanings”. (…) Among the many difficulties of translation are the false cognatos.  Let’s look at some of the most common examples of false English-language cognatos found in translations of medical texts:

(…) Adherence – adherence and non-adherence (to treatment)

Adhesion – adhesion and non-adhesion (visceral)

Appoint (v.) – mark and not point (query)

Injury – injury and non-injury (damage to an organ or tissue)

Process – lump and non-process (anatomy)

Provocative – inducing and non-provocative (diagnostic test) (…)

Another difficulty of translations lies in polysemy. Polysemy is called the multiplicity of meanings for the same word. If the translator does not master the subject he is translating, he will fall into real pitfalls. (…). Some false cognatos are already rooted in the medical vocabulary in their pseudotranslations (…). (REZENDE, 2004)

According to Oliveira (2002, p. 5), the “False cognatos”, as academically termed, “are words that resemble in the form of words of the Portuguese language, but differ in meaning or meaning”. He explains that “False friends” represent one of the legada Latin inheritances to English, being words that have changed their meanings over the centuries through diverse social aspects, to the detriment of their semantic basis. Moreover, he thinks of them as “true pitfalls for the Brazilian reader”, and exemplifies by citing the case of the extradition request of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet in which one of the Spanish applicants referred to the latter as a “formidable dictator”, which apparently would mean a “formidable dictator”, but in the present “formidable” context should be translated as “terrible”, “horrible” or “inhuman”. Therefore, care should be taken when employing “false friends” because they are abundant in the English language and enabling misleading translations that will induce readers to misinterpret that may tarnish the reputation of the translator or company where he performs this function. Given these facts, it is understood that just as poorly used words lead to erroneous interpretations, erroneous translations lead to erroneous interpretations. A translator should be aware of his/her responsibility to transmit messages whose content will not change.

Very illustrative is also the book by Jack Scholes (2001) in which he presents in a very relaxed way everyday expressions in English with equivalents in Portuguese and the original history of each of them, explaining them. For example: a) “To get someone’s goat” – Annoy or infuriate someone (p. 58); b) “To pay through the nose” – Pay excessively, pay the eyes of the face (p. 86); c) “Warts and all” – Along with the positive points, include all defects or unpleasant facts, without hiding anything (p. 108); d) “Wet behind the ears” – Inexperienced, Immature, Naïve (p. 110); and so many other expressions that must be researched before being arbitrarily translated. Just knowing loose words in a language is not enough to empower someone to perform well in translation, a work that requires competence. One should not assign literal translation to idiomatic expressions; this would be like trying to make the version of the expression “To the letter” for the English language and result in At the foot of the letter instead of Word-for-word which would be the proper expression.

Even the Holy Bible that is considered “The Book of Books” is not free from translation errors as Couto (2007, p. 37) states that the Indian theologian writer Frederic William Farrar in his book History of Interpretation demonstrates his ability to identify at least fifteen translators in the Septuagint from which deficiencies such as Hebrew languageism translated to the letter that “do not even by far convey the idea of the original”; transliteration rather than the translation of ideas; some books that have been paraphrased but not translated; change of Hebrew feelings in order to match them with the Greek Alexandrian mentality. Actions such as these tend to cause serious translation errors, justifying with the text in Daniel 11 that presents the expressions “King of the North” and “King of the South” that were translated respectively by “king of Assyria” and “king of Egypt”. Moreover, even worse than this is the case of spurious translations that attempt to induce their readers to biblical misinterpretation in order to drive them away from the original word, aiming to assert their own as authentic, usurping the position of the Canonical Bible and to transform into God the god they present:

      1. Col 1: 15-17 – The word “other” is inserted four times. This is not in the original Greek nor is it implied. This is a section where Jesus is described as the creator of all things. Since the T.J. organization believes that Jesus is a created being, they inserted the word “other” to show that Jesus was at the heart of everything “other” things, implying that He was also a created being.
      2. A) There are two words, in Greek, translated as “other”: heteros and allos. The first means another of a different thing, that is, of a different nature. The second means something else of the same nature or the same type. Neither is used in this section of Scripture. The T.J. changed the Bible to make it suitable for their aberrant theology.
      3. Heb 1: 8 (…) Since the T.J. do not agree with that, again, they changed the Bible to fit their theology. (…) To justify the translation of the N.T they currently also changed the translation of the Old Testament!
      4. A) New World translation is horrible. She changed the text to suit her own theology in many places. (SLICK, [s.d.])

There are people who use their intelligence for evil. That’s an evil translator. This kind of professional knows that just for a word can destroy the reputation of a renowned scripture, as well as a company’s image and credibility, and can use its talents for mere revenge, for selfish interests or for any other unethical reason. This can emerge as a dangerous area in the field of translation to which one should also pay greater attention – the sub-inverters of the translation.



Translation requires textual revision and correction through proper linguistic knowledge. A language is composed of essential characteristic elements that contribute to its communicational performance. In written communication it is essential that there is concern about the correct use of conventional rules of the language, because this ability requires obedience to the various styles of texts and their components, given that it is conceptualized as a standard norm or cultured norm of the language according to the social context in which it is used.


Consider written communication regarding grammatical standards. There is a slight difference between knowing them and applying them. For example, the phrase: “The girl I spoke to is the one over there”. “What did I say”? In a purely situational context, the phrase is considerably intelligible because both the sender of the message and the receiver know the subject in question. Therefore, this type of construction in everyday language is common and open to understanding between the parties involved in the (oral) communication process. Therefore, linguistically correct and acceptable. However, note the same sentence in an editorial manner: “The girl I spoke to is the one over there”. Sounds ambiguous – “The girl I spoke to” or “The girl I spoke to”? The sentence is syntactically incorrect because the verb is misused, lacking a differential element: the preposition that clarifies its transition. The necessary use of one of these two prepositions – “of” and “with” – denotes completely different meanings and, therefore, they must be used pertinently with respect to what one wants to transmit. Note the meaning of the sentence with the first: “The girl that (who) [what person] I spoke to is the one there”, that is, the interlocutor spoke about the girl; with the second: “The girl with (who) (which) [with what person] I spoke is the one over there”, that is, the interlocutor talked to the girl.

It is also understood a circumstantial event in the context of the respective communication to the prepositions used in the above sentences. In the case of the use of the preposition “de”, in which the emphasis is on the result of speaking, there is an indirect action concerning the third person in the face of the interlocutor since the manifestation of the second person can be emphasized, because it presupposes a possible judgment on his part, which gives the preposition a transitive character; in the case of the use of the preposition “com”, in which the emphasis is on the act of speaking, there is a direct action concerning the third person in the face of the interlocutor since the manifestation of the second person is not emphasized, because it does not necessarily require his judgment, which gives the preposition an intransitive character.


Taking the crase as a means of illustration, one can observe the difference it causes between two seemingly equal sentences: 1) “The girl said: I am a virgin”; 2) “I said unto the girl, I am a virgin.” In example 1, “The girl” is the subject of the phrase, because one asks: Who said she is a virgin? Answer: The girl said. There is simply an inversion of the subject’s position with the verb that does not alter the sintactic function. In example 2, “À moça” is the indirect object of the sentence, because the verb “Say” acts as a direct and indirect transitive verb, which requires two complementary terms that are the direct object and the indirect object, being “I am a virgin” the direct object. The subject is hidden, and may be a noun of its own as a male or female name or may be a personal pronoun of the third-person straight case of the singular. In the first case, the girl performs the action of saying; in the second, a third person besides the girl, not described, performs the action. The change of the subjects in the two sentences can only be evidenced by the use of crass; otherwise, they would have the same meaning.



For a long time, the following sentence circulates on the Internet: “If the man knew the value that the woman would be looking for all fours”, suggesting that a comma be placed after the subordinate prayer that can extend to the word “woman” or even the verb in its conjugated form “has”. By placing the comma, the meaning of the sentence is totally altered: 1) “If the man knew the value of the woman, he would walk from four to his search”; 2) “If the man knew the value he has, the woman would walk from all four to his search”.

Jeached, from such placements, it is concluded that having been the comma placed after the word woman, certainly who did it was a woman; on the other hand, if the comma was placed after the verb in its conjugated form “has”, certainly who did it was a man. The truth is that the simple placement of the comma, whatever the position, completely alters the meaning of what one intends to convey, regardless of or not arbitrary action.


Taking the comma (,) as a means of illustration, one can observe the difference it causes between two apparently equal sentences: “Can’t go” and “No, you can go.” The comma has several rules of use, but the focus in this case is on the “change of meaning” that it can cause. Contextualizing the above sentences, it is infers that there are two distinct occurrences for apparently equal answers, if not for the use of the comma:

Dr. John, the meeting is over. Should I stay here in the living room?

No, you can go.

Dr. John, the meeting is over. Can the secretary come with me to the lobby?

You can’t go.

In the first example, “No, (you) can go” it is understood that Dr. João no longer needs his subordinate, speaking directly to him – the second person of the speech; in the second example, “(He) Cannot Go” it is understood that Dr. João still needs his subordinate, quoting him indirectly – the third person in the discourse.



In the Holy Bible (1995), Revised and Corrected Edition, the gospel of John presents in verse 43 of chapter 11 the following sentence: “Lazarus, come out.” It is understood that the verb “sair” already carries with it the notion of “going out”, as can be seen in other Biblical versions: “Lazarus, come out”. Therefore, using the expression “out” sound redundant. However, this stylistic construction reinforces the context, which only applies in the scope of literature in which it is recognized as a figure of language. The phrase, however, goes beyond a mere literary aspect, configuring itself as necessary to what corresponded to the will of Jesus. He not only wanted Lazarus to leave the tomb, but by using the expression “out” he intended to emphasize the outside, the “being outside” of the tomb where he would be free from death and free for life; inside the tomb he could not enjoy life and this liberation, but would remain imprisoned in death. So when he says “get out” he intends to mean, “get out of death and come to life” or “get out for life.” This is the correct way to interpret the text without the stigma of textual incorrection. Moreover, there are other meanings that are no longer pertinent to this study, but to the other area of knowledge.


A typical and common example because common to the speech of the Brazilian people in general is the use of the word “behind” when unnecessary, and it hardly sums: “I entered the translation course five months ago”. The verb “haver” in its conjugated form “there” refers to a time in the past, and can be replaced by the verb “to do” in its conjugated form “faz”. If the verb already carries with it the notion of past time, there is no need to employ a word that also carries with it the notion of the past, because it refers to what was left behind, that is, in the past. Given this obviency, redundancy is configured by not producing any extra information. Therefore, it would be unnecessary to use concomitantly with the verb, simply saying: “I entered the translation course five months ago” or “I entered the translation course five months ago”. The latter, however, very little used. Mistakenly regarded as a reinforcement to cause expressiveness, the word “behind” in the first sentence would be a disposable element, as it would eventually generate redundancy configured as “vicious pleonasmus”.

Fully rooted in the field of logic, tautology, by its definition, has been replacing, mainly in the media and social networks, the concept of “figures of language” belonging to the field of stylistics. It seems euphemist the use of this term as a way to mitigate the presence of the Portuguese language as a “dictator of rules” as seen and rejected by many. Thus, tautological lists are being successful and being adopted by society as a whole.



As an integral part of the grammar of the Portuguese language, the spelling is to explain the correct way to write in order to avoid graphic errors arising from lack of grammatical knowledge or arising from inadequate phonemic substitutions. In this context, the homograph, homonymous, homophone, parony words, among others, play an important role so that they are used correctly both orally and in writing according to their definition. It is necessary to know the meaning of a word and its corresponding spelling to use it properly. The following are two examples with errors:

  • “In complying with the rules for the registration of taxes and other financial statements, it is essential to accurately discriminate the expenses with gifts or entertainment offered in the course of its activity […] (LINGUEE DICTIONARY, 2020);
  • “Favela da Chatuba where bandits feel like masters of the situation.”

The first is found in the aforementioned online dictionary widely used by translators. Even with renowned dictionaries, one should be very careful when researching them. Among other examples with the same verb “decrypt”, the highlighted text misuses this verb, considering its denotative meaning to “exonerate, absolve, decriminalize, take the guilt of others” that does not fit the context; the correct verb to be used in this case is “discriminating” whose denotative meaning is “to differentiate, distinguish, separate, list, classify, segregate”. The translator may incur this translation error from the bad use of the verb. It is advisable that the translator compare several translation dictionaries to find the one that corresponds exactly to the meaning of the text. The Word Reference dictionary (2020) correctly presents the translation for these two paronimos verbs: a) “Decriminalize”: decriminalizing, decriminalizing; (b) “Discriminate” means discriminating. Equally timely is not to accept a term as correct based so only on the fact that someone renowned employs it. This is the case of the second example whose words were given by Secretary of Security Jose Mariano Beltrame on RJ TV (TV Globo) on 09/14/2012. A translation of an original text with previously uncorrected grammatical errors results in a different meaning from the proper interpretation that the text requires. Respectively, the grizzled words employed correctly would be: discriminate and where.

It is therefore necessary to understand the difference in the use of words in order to be able to translate them appropriately. According to the Oxford dictionary (HORNBY, 1987, pp. 5, 344, 377), the term Descriminar, used with reference to people, would be “Absolve (1)”: to state formally that someone is not guilty or responsible for something. (formally declare that someone is not guilty or responsible for something); the term Decriminalize, used with reference to nouns, would be “Decriminalize”: to change the law so that something is no longer illegal. (change the law so that something is no longer illegal); the term Discriminate, used with reference to people or things, would be “Discriminate (1)”: to recognize that there is a difference between people or things. (recognize that there is a difference between people or things). Very commonly, the adverb “where” has been used instead of “where” and vice versa because it is not known the rule of use or because it is more emphatic, for example: Where do you live? For translation, this phrase could follow the textual style in which it was used as a popular dialogue, or be corrected: Where do you live? Knowing that in English the same word Where serves both adverbs; one should therefore observe the transitivity of the verb for a perfect translation: Where do you live? and Where are you going? respectively: Where do you live? and where are you going?


Contrary to prosodia and orthosia, the usual errors of pronunciation already enshrined by Portuguese speakers are sometimes automatically transferred to writing in the way they are performed orally, causing spelling errors. For example: interim, which in Portuguese is usually pronounced “interim” whose tonicity falls on the last syllable, oxitonando it, in English is written interim (not taking into account the English pronunciation), which makes even more possible spelling error for translation purposes by those who do not know the correct spelling.


Today, there is a tendency to reduce or lengthen expressions perhaps for the purpose of having a stylish effect on the way of expressing oneself. Gerundisms and Abundant Verbs are misused due to lack of knowledge of the rules of use. Regarding the first, it is understood that it sound bad when used to express an action that will be performed when speaking because one does not admit progressive character. For example, “Wait a moment i’ll be passing the call.” Passing a call is instant an instant and not progressive. Hence, a vicious aspect of gerundism. On the other hand, it can be perfectly acceptable if used to express progressive actions that extend indefinitely into the future. For example, “Don’t call me after dinner because I’m driving.” Therefore, it is necessary to make known verbs or verbal expressions that denote duration.

With regard to the second, it is understood that it does not seem bad when using the regular participle in place of the irregular and vice versa. There is a clear rule that assists in the correct use of these participy. The verbs “to be” and “to be” should be used with the irregular forms of verbal participers, while the verbs “to have” and “to be” should be used with their regular forms, those which are finished in –ado and -gone. Examples: 1) “The invitation has been accepted.” “The invitation is delivered”; 2) “He had/had accepted the invitation.” “He had/had delivered the invitation.” These phrases contain abundant verbs, that is, verbs that have regular and irregular participers. The phrases in example 2 are found in the verbal tense “previous more-than-perfect compound” which is equivalent to the “more-than-perfect”, according to the following sentences: “He had accepted the invitation”. “He had delivered the invitation.”

However, despite the existence of these rules so clear, there are people who cannot apply them or, because they do not know them, prefer to apply erroneous forms that have become popular even in social media of considerable cultural level. Examples: 1) “I still didn’t arrive when she called me”; 2) “I have a snack every day”; 3) “The verb was used wrongly”. These verbs are not abundant, admitting only the regular form of the participle, respectively: 1) arrived; 2) brought; 3) Employee. It is urgent to know the grammatical and spelling rules relevant to the topics related in this section to avoid errors that may inadvertently be used in translation.


Since translation is a textual transposition between two languages, the translator must be prepared to adapt the particularities of one language to another language when performing his work. If the translator is unfamiliar with his own language so that it allows him to perform a good reading and good writing, performing a translation of great quality will be impossible. He needs to have dictionaries, grammars, acquire knowledge through research, mainly the areas of knowledge related to what he will work with, but is insightful when using the denotative and connotative senses he obtains from these linguistic tools. More than assigning simple definitions found in dictionaries, the translation must be done respecting the sintactic, semantic, stylistic, phonetic, orthographic structures of the language to which it is translated so that it is understandable to what it reads, what it hears, what it interprets. For this very part, it can never be done to the letter, but take into account the various original textual meanings relevant to the meanings in the mother tongue.

The rich structures of the Portuguese language do not always have equivalents in other languages, as in the case of the English language. For example, in section 3 of this paper, which deals with the difference in meaning by accentuation, it is also worth mentioning another aspect of extreme importance: the classification and performance of the subject in the sentence. It is known that in English there is no hidden subject, indeterminate or nonexistent subject, because in this language, all sentences must have a subject, except for the imperative mode of verbs. It is interesting to note that the undetermined subject resembles the unknown passive agent, as in The bank was robbed two weeks ago that could be translated as: “They robbed the bank two weeks ago”. Another example in this section “Invitation was accepted” equivalent in English to The invitation was accepted. It is understood who is the agent of the passive due to the context in which the sentence is applied. These are cases in which the passive voice can be used in English.

Also in the same section, other topics were addressed on which some comments can be made regarding their use in the English language. For example, the English language score is not used as often as it is in Portuguese. Normally, the English language uses more endpoints than commas, which tends to decrease the length of sentences and causes its elements to suffer a considerable change of position.

The order of placement of sentences between one language and another is naturally changed when a translation is performed. In English, it is custoy to avoid the use of superfluous words or expressions, more objective statements that discard evasive ideas are sought, making sentences more transparent than is usually seen in Portuguese when writing too much to impress the reader with a would-be intellectuality.

There are particularities in a language that cannot simply be automatically transferred to another without observing its cultural characteristics. The rules of the English language, for example, exclude the possibility of appearing pleonasmos in their phrasal constructions. In this case, if a translator intends to use this type of resource in a translation into Portuguese should consider the level of relevance to its application, as in the case of the biblical reference quoted from John 11:43 corresponding to Lazarus, come out! whose pleonasistic reference would reveal its stylistic application, because it involves a meaning beyond merely denotative.

Still in this line of reasoning referring to language vices, there is what has become gerundism in the Portuguese language that may come from a tendency in society as a whole to elitize speech, imitating the foreign way of expressing phrases, in this case the English language, which exerts great influence on Brazilian culture. The English structure will + be doing has at least four forms of application that must be known to understand its correct use, and not make equivalent uses in Portuguese inadvertently. Take the example: We won’t be doing any work while you are not here (ADMIN, 2019), which can be translated “We won’t do anything until you’re here”. However, considering the “gerundist” practice of the present day, this phrase would be said like this: “We will not be doing anything until you are here”. Here, it is not just a question of translating to the letter because it is not, but it is the case of the gross elitist tendency for lack of consideration (and perhaps not only knowledge) to the language itself.

The words seat in English and “bank” in Portuguese are also noted. There are, respectively, occurrence of homonyms (1) and homographs (2):

  1. Seat (of government) = government seat; Seat = seat;
  2. Seat (government) = seat (of government); Thirst (water) = thirst (for water).

The structural aspects of a language are diverse, but those presented here serve only to draw attention to the need to improve the exercise of the function of translator by the recognition of words and expressions, its perfect applicability in the various types of texts as well as of the entire linguistic structure under study.


Irresponsible “translators”, as Silveira (2004) states, will continue to exist, as they have always been. Like weeds, they will always sprout next to the good plant, confusing with it. They will never be excised. But anyway, someone needs to refer, from time to time, to refer, as a serious warning, to the evil they represent. In the field in which ideas flourish, their existence is as harmful, so catastrophic, as an erosion against which no action was taken.

Poorly made translations have the power to negatively impact any reader. There are human translators who very much resemble some virtual translators who are unable to interpret syntactic and semantic characteristics and styles of a second language and end up altering the original message – the results of their work are insufficient, which can cause various damage.

First, a prior knowledge of the lexical-grammatical properties of both languages in the translation process is necessary in place in avoiding errors arising from the use of impertinent words to the subject to be developed or that are written in disagreement with the spelling or whose meanings do not correspond to the central idea of the text because they are not in line with the theme that is intended to be addressed. From this precise survey, the search for other linguistic requirements of equal importance such as the singularities of the language will continue: dialects, idiomatic expressions, verbal structures – auxiliaries, insinences, contractions, nominal forms, voices – pronominal placements, etc., so that they are applied consistently in order to manifest their effectiveness.

The good translator is zealous in the sense of exceling in the good quality of the text, avoiding superfluidities that transmit nothing, but only serve to fill the text with vain words in order to appear sufficiency of content. In fact, this sufficiency comes from a communicative capacity of the text that is received through essential textual aspects as continuity that can only exist through cohesion that in turn must be combined with coherence and even these joints with other accessories pertinent to textual composition. Only in this way will it be possible to form a harmonious whole whose units interconnect providing a syntactic and semantic relational balance.

A proper translator does his translation thinking of the reader, about how the message will reach him, making it intelligible. To this end, it recognizes the type, genre or textual form in which it is inserted and adapts its content to the target language so that there is textual equivalence that can accurately convey the meaning of the original text; this has nothing to do with the vain attempt to guess what the author meant. In addition, it adapts language (verbal, non-verbal or mixed) to your target audience according to your sociocultural level.

All translators and aspiring likes should be aware of the need for professional improvement through refresher courses and extensive knowledge of the languages involved in the translation process so as not to incur even elementary errors that will eventually destroy their professional reputation.


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[1] PhD student in Higher Education, Master in Sciences of Religions, Specialist in Higher Teaching, Specialist in Translation, Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor and Bachelor of Letters.

Submitted: September 2020.

Approved: February 2021.

PhD student in Higher Education, Master of Science in Religion, Specialist in Higher Education, Specialist in Translation, Bachelor in Theology, Bachelor and Degree in Literature.


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