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Vietnamese translation: Easy or difficult? 

Vietnamese translation: Easy or difficult? 

There is a saying that goes “Greatest storms should not beat the Vietnamese grammar”. Just with this, we can figure out how “disastrous” Vietnamese grammar is. But let me tell you, Vietnamese grammar is actually super easy, so easy that it hardly exists. Then why is it a hurdle?

Vietnamese translation: Easy or difficult? 

I have 10 years of working experience as a Vietnamese translator. My main language pairs are English – Vietnam and vice versa. Sometimes I am also asked to translate simple French documents because I am originally a French learner. I think 10 years is probably long enough for me to crystallize a few worth sharing things.  It’s all about the question Is Vietnamese translation easy or tricky? 

Grammar, a hurdle in Vietnamese translation? 

There is a saying that goes “Greatest storms should not beat the Vietnamese grammar”. Just with this, we can figure out how “disastrous” Vietnamese grammar is. But let me tell you, Vietnamese grammar is actually super easy, so easy that it hardly exists. Then why is it a hurdle? 

 “Everything is not what it seems”, this also applies for this case. Vietnamese tends to mix up speaking and writing languages, and even Internet slang nowadays. This is somehow really dangerous. As a result, it is hard to find a proper translation.  

Recently when I listened to a conversation on the radio, the MC of a national TV station said to the audience: – Nếu bác còn lăn tăn về tình trạng của mình thì bác có thể tìm đến gặp trực tiếp bác sĩ chuyên khoa. (If you are still confuzzed/confused about your condition, you can go directly to a specialist.)  

First of all, the word “lăn tăn” (confuzzed) should not be used because it is considered slang. The appropriate one must be “băn khoăn“ (confused). 

Another example of a common mistake: “– Chúng ta cần phải tiến hành thực hiện nghiêm chỉnh 5K trong phòng chống dịch.” (We must need to implement and strictly follow 5K rules for pandemic control.) The Vietnamese sentence seems to be fine at a glance. However, the correct version must be: “- Chúng ta phải thực hiện nghiêm chỉnh 5K trong phòng chống dịch.” (We must strictly follow 5K rules for pandemic control.) 

The phrase “tiến hành thực hiện” is redundant because only “tiến hành” or “thực hiện” is enough. Using both only causes repetition.  

That’s not all. Because Vietnam is an isolating language, sometimes there are many interpretations of a sentence, and in many cases, interpretations are opposite in meaning. Let’s try this as a quiz: Find some Vietnamese sentences with two opposite meanings. Send me an email to [email protected] to get your prize.  

Grammar, a hurdle in Vietnamese translation?

Differences in sentence length in English and Vietnamese  

This is a challenge for those who are involved in websites, software, games or mobile application localization. 

Software interfaces usually do not allow sentences that are too long. Translating into Vietnamese will often make sentences longer, which significantly affects the interface and user experience. Your beautiful English application interface can be a dump in Vietnamese.  

Take the names of functions in mobile apps as an example. The screen size is limited; therefore finding a concise Vietnamese phrase of equivalent length that can be understood correctly is really a huge challenge.  

A typical example: Add media = Thêm nội dung đa phương tiện/Thêm đa phương tiện. 

In this case, we can borrow English words to make the Vietnamese sentence sound more professional. For example: “Thêm Media” 

In fact, Vietnamese translations are on average 15% longer than English translations in terms of word count. 

Vietnamese writing style: A humongous challenge 

Let me use some trendy words in the title of this section because this may be the only place where I can freely use them. 

In fact, English is very scientific. One writing style can be used on different occasions. The readers will have their own way to understand. After all, the message remains the same. Everyone can correctly understand the writer’s intention. 

It is a bit different in Vietnamese. We have marketing writing style, legal writing style or free writing style, etc. Translators need to be more creative or be very familiar with each type of document, to be able to produce a translation that meets the customer’s wishes.  

All in all, Vietnamese translation is easy or tricky? 

In my opinion, translating from Vietnamese to English will be much easier than translating from English to Vietnamese. Wonder why?  

  • I will understand Vietnamese better as a native. Only when I correctly understand, I can adapt it into English. 
  • My field of expertise is legal translation. The English language is very clear and scientific. I will not have trouble choosing the appropriate writing style if I translate from Vietnamese to English. I cannot say the same for English-Vietnamese translation.  
  • It’s easier to check English documents for grammar and spelling errors compared to Vietnamese. Trust me, it’s the reality.  
  • I have accumulated a lot of experience in adapting a Vietnamese sentence into English effectively.  
  • And on top of that, I am confident that I will translate Vietnamese into English better than an English-speaking translator. You must already know this. If not, please read this article one more time.
Translation Instructions and Efficient Ways to Build Them

7 steps of the basic translation process 

Each LSP has its own translation method, which can be tailored to the needs of the customer. However, in general, LSPs must assure adherence to a defined procedure. In this post, AM Vietnam will outline seven fundamental stages that all professional translation efforts must follow.

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Translation Quality Assurance with Xbench in 09 Steps

Quality assurance with Xbench is an essential stage in ensuring translation quality in professional translation today. Join AM Vietnam to learn how to utilize Xbench, one of the most successful translation QA tools available today.

Translation Instructions and Efficient Ways to Build Them

7 steps of the basic translation process 

Each LSP has its own translation method, which can be tailored to the needs of the customer. However, in general, LSPs must assure adherence to a defined procedure. In this post, AM Vietnam will outline seven fundamental stages that all professional translation efforts must follow.

blank

Translation Quality Assurance with Xbench in 09 Steps

Quality assurance with Xbench is an essential stage in ensuring translation quality in professional translation today. Join AM Vietnam to learn how to utilize Xbench, one of the most successful translation QA tools available today.

Dịch thuật tiếng Việt: Dễ hay khó?

Vietnamese translation: Easy or difficult? 

There is a saying that goes “Greatest storms should not beat the Vietnamese grammar”. Just with this, we can figure out how “disastrous” Vietnamese grammar is. But let me tell you, Vietnamese grammar is actually super easy, so easy that it hardly exists. Then why is it a hurdle?