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The Analysis Of Translation Errors

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2467 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Translation is one of the means that people use to other languages betterbecause there are a lot of languages spoken in this world. Since there are so many cultures and ideas shared in this world, Indonesians need to learn other languages and one of them is English. In order to be able to exchange ideas with people in other countries, Indonesians need to be proficient in spoken and written English. However the majority of Indonesian people do not speak English. That is why they have to learn English from the basic. For themtranslation is a necessary skill. One of the problems in translation is that sometimes a translator cannot transfer messages well (CITATION HERE). But because Indonesians lack of translation skills, the writer found that some works of translation do not have the same message as the original writer wants to tell to the target language.

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Translating a sentence can be challenging,. It should tell the context that the original language wants to tell and it must be of the same meaning. According to Nida, “translation is the reproduction in a target language of the closest natural equivalent of the source language message” (Nida, 1982, 208). If translators cannot translate the messages accurately, the readers will have difficulty in understanding the messages.

To understanding the messages accurately, the translation skill must be taught and mastered. According to Gabrielatos (1998), translation has a long history in English Language Teaching. Many teachers use translation techniques to deliver their teaching materials. Translation is most frequently used as a convenient shortcut when teaching vocabulary, by providing ‘equivalents’ in the learners’ mother tongues. The other reason is that a lot of written media, such as books, modules, novels, magazines are translated into English language. Translation skill is a basic skill in English. In order to understand English texts well, a person needs to be able to translate or even master the translation skill. Translation skill is also important for someone who works with TV or movie production.

Translation work focuses in the area of education, particularly in higher education. In the Faculty of Letters, students learn the translation skills; they have to take translation class. The Faculty of Letters offers two levels of translation class. In the basic translation class, students learn how to translate English readings or paragraphs to Indonesian. In the more advanced class, students learn to translate Indonesian paragraphs or articles into English

Unfortunately, many students cannot master the translation skill well. Due to such problems, the writer is concerned that the work of translation would be seen by the other English learners. They still have to learn that the essence of translation is to translate the sentence thoroughly, not by a word. By seeing the result of translation above, the students still face an ambiguity of Indonesian word, phrase, and sentence.

In this study, the writer wants to investigate whether student translations are accurate or not and to find out the most common errors in their translation. FIELD OF THE STUDY

This study is in the field of Linguistics


In doing his research, the writer intends to examine the error analysis in translation. He is interested in analyzing the grammatical errors in students’ translations. However, spelling errors which do not affect the content and the grammar of the text are ignored.


In this study, the research problem is content and grammatical errors in translation. This study will address the following research questions:

What translation error occurs in the students’ translation?

What type of content and grammatical errors occur in the translation?

What is the most dominant errors in translation?


The objectives of this study are as follows:

To investigate the kind of translation errors in students’ translation.

To find type of content and grammatical errors occur in the translation.

To compare the dominant translation error, whether grammatical or content errors occur in translation.


The writer hopes that this analysis can contribute to the discussion of content and grammatical errors in translation. The result of this study will hopefully help English learners to improve their translation skill. If they are aware of the most common mistakes in translation, they will be able to avoid such errors. In addition, this study will provide suggestions and recommendations that learners and teachers can implement.


a. Translation error : can not deliver the meaning correctly

b. Content error : failed to share ideas from the original text

c. Grammatical error : going out from the rule of a grammar in context



2.1 Translation

Scholars define translation in different ways. Some define the term translation on the basis of the essence and the process of translation. According to Catford, the meaning of translation is the replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent material in another language (Catford, 1965). In Catford’s definition, the purpose of translation study is to convey an intended meaning of a material in the source Language (SL) into target Language (TL). So, the meaning in SL has to be equivalent with that in TL.

Savory (1968) suggests that “Translation is made possibly by an equivalent of thought that lies behind it different verbal expression.” This means that the essence of translation lies on the equivalent thought. It means that the main ideas in the source language are the same as those in the target language.

Nida and Taber define the meaning of translation by focusing it on the process of translation. They state that “Translating consists of reproducing in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style” (1982). Their definition is the complete one. They state that in the TL, the meaning and the style (structure or grammar) must be as natural as possible, so the result of the translation does not look like a translation work.

In those definitions, there are three similar ideas. Firstly, there is a process of transferring from one language into another language. The second one is that the meaning has to be retained. The last, the translator must carry the closest equivalent idea in the target language.

2.2 Common Problems in Translation

Newmark (1988) and Barnet & Stubbs (1980) classify the errors found in translation into the following:

Different sense

In this category the translation is totally different from the original text in terms of linguistic sense of meaning, be it in the word or sentence level. In this category, the translation is a misstatement of fact. (Newmark, 1988)

Less precise or less accurate

There is nothing perfect on the works of translation but it must cover the words into an original meaning of a sentence in whole. That is why this category is related to the precision or accuracy of the original text meaning.

Misuse of phrases

To translate the phrase to an exact word must be selected into several categories, whether the order of a word is accurate or not. In this category, the translation misuse of phrases such as ‘more and more’ for ‘increasingly, ‘above all’ for ‘particularly ; ‘job’ for ‘work’; ‘got well’ for ‘recovered’ and excessively familiar phrasal verbs (‘get out of’, ‘get rid of’) (Newmark,1988).

Misuse of formal or official register

The translation errors are in the degree of formality, generality, and emotional tone of a text. For instance, ‘decease’ for ‘death’ (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

Less coherent

The result of the translation does not fit in standard phrases and forms. For example in a narrative, it has formulaic opening (‘Once upon a time”) and a formulaic close (‘they all lived happily ever after’).

Less cohesive

In this category, the translation error is related to the relation between sentences. The most common forms these take care connectives denoting addition (‘however’, ‘on the contrary’), result (‘therefore’, ‘consequently’), and other connectives. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)


Sometimes, the translation adds additional information which does not exist in the original text. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

8. Left out

In this category, the translation misses the ideas of the original texts. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

2.3 Grammatical Errors

Richard (1971) suggests that “ultralingual errors are those which reflect the general characteristics of rule learning, such as faulty generalizations, in complete application of rules, and failure to learn conditions under rules apply.” This can happen when the subject is going out from the rule of a grammar in context.

According to Richards, translation errors can be categorized as follows:

Errors in the Production of Verbs Groups

In this case, the translation errors are related to the production of verb such as gerunds, infinitives, participles (present/ past), errors in the use of verbs forms after modals, and the production of agreements of verbs with subject. The examples are as follows

Errors in the production of tense forms

He is speaks French.

He did not asks me.

Errors in the production of verb forms

I enjoy to work.

Did you go to shopping?

Errors in the use of verb forms after modals

She cannot goes.

We must worked hard.

Errors in the production of agreements of verbs with subjects

She go to school everyday.

They walks to the market.

2.3.2 Errors in the Distribution of Verb Groups

Errors in the distribution of verb groups are classified into the inversion of verb and subject in direct or reported statements, the misuse of present or past participles, and the misuse of subject or objects. The examples are as follows:

Errors in the inversion of verb and subject in direct or reported statements:

He said that had he worked hard.

She asked me whether was she hungry.

The misuse of present or past participles

The country was discovering by Colombus.

I am interested in that.

The misuse of subjects or objects

Kate is my friend. He is a teacher.

Eric is a doctor. I want to marry her.

2.3.3 Miscellaneous Errors

Miscellaneous errors are classified into errors in the use of pronouns, errors in the adverbs, errors in the use of adjectives, errors in the use of ‘too’ or ‘so’, errors in the position of words, errors in the use of plural, and errors in the use of conjunctions. The examples are as follows:

Errors in the use of pronouns

Ann met I at the museum.

She walked between Eni and he.

Errors in the use of adverbs

She sings beautiful.

He ran fastly.

Errors in the use of adjectives

I met a kindly man.

She is a beautifully woman.

Errors in the use of ‘too’ or ‘so’

I am so lazy to stay at home.

I am too tired that I cannot work

Errors in the position of words

She swims often in Tretes.

He really is a good architect.

Errors in the use of plural

Tina bought a watches.

There are two dog in his house.

Errors in the use of conjunctions

Though he is poor, but he is very diligent.

Is a lemon sweet but sour?



This chapter contains the method of the study. It consists of methodological approach, source of data, data collection, and data analysis.

In conducting this research, the writer uses quantative method. He uses quantative because the data will be in numerical form such as statistics, and percentages. He analyzes sentences, and then he describes and explores the errors and put them in the table in form of percentage.

3.1 Material

The sources of data for this study are the students’ assignments of translation course in the Faculty of Letters’ Soegijapranata Catholic University. The writer only investigates twenty five assignments to limit the number of data.

3.2 Procedure

The writer collects students’ assignments and randomizes the twenty five of students’ assignments then analyse the mistakes happen the most. The mistakes can be found in the students’ assignments, identifying red stripe left by the lecturer. In doing this research, the writer used three steps. In the first place, in order to understand the meaning of the sentences, the writer reads the Indonesian sentences as a whole. After that, he reads the sentence by sentence and compared those sentences with the corresponding English sentences slowly and carefully. Furthermore, he focuses on the errors. He underlines the Indonesian part and the corresponding English error in bold type.

There are some steps in the analysis. Firstly, the writer reads the Indonesian and the English sentence by sentence to know whether the content is already the same or not. If he finds out the content errors, he classified it based on the type of content error following Newmark (1988) and Barnett & Stubbs’ classifications (1980).

Table 1: Content error

No. sentence

Indonesian text

English text



After he finishes identifying the content error, he identifies the grammatical error and classifies it into the type of grammatical error following Richards’ categories (1974).

Table 2: Grammatical error

No. sentence

Indonesian text

English text



For the last part, he deals with the dominant translation error which occurred in the translation class. He makes three tables, they are consists of content error, grammatical error, and types of content and grammatical error and their frequencies.


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