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Translation is the act of converting the written word from one language to another, or even between different dialects. The act of converting the spoken word between languages is known as interpretation. It may also apply to the dejargonification of language from complex and obscure terminology or esotericisms into everyday terms that can be understood by ordinary people.

Owing to the widespread use of idiom in language, translation may be fraught with problems and blindly following a translated topic can result in unexpected consequences. Languages do not have a one to one correspondence with one another so translators must employ various techniques to circumvent these pitfalls. Often a translator must either expand or condense a phrase or word in order to properly express the meaning of the source text. A thorough grasp of the text's subject matter is often required of a translator in order to use the correct language in a given field, or even to understand the text itself. It is usually best for a translator to work into his or her native language as translating into a non-native language often results in stilted, unnatural phrasing. It is important for a translator to remain faithful to the source text, while usually producing a target text that appears as if it were not the product of translation.

In international contracts it is common that several translations may be drawn up but a clause will specify which language shall be used for arbitration.

See also