One language of a country may be the same to another language of a country, and some may be different from others.

As good translators we are supposed to be aware of some key differences of the source language to be transformed into best target language equivalents. However, some translators often fail to do this. Some others do not.

This merely happens because they, perhaps, lack of knowledge of the target language or the source language. In this case, they are supposed to learn the strategies how to cope with this problem. This, of course, is not a piece of cake problem. This needs serious concern, for the failure in transforming one language to another language will cause misunderstanding among the readers. In result, more conflicts will happen especially when the texts contain very sensitive issues.

Some languages, of course, are different from other languages, whether in the context of time (tenses), word formation, etc. For example, English is different from Indonesian mainly in the context of tense and word formation. In English, the tense can be identified just by looking at the verbs used while in Indonesian, it cannot be identified just by looking at the verbs used. We need to add the specific time signal to make one sentence in Indonesian known when the event happens.

In English, for example, when we would like to say that something happened yesterday, it's enough for us to say, "The party was canceled." From the copula verb used, in this case "was", it is clearly known that the sentence implies the event that happened in the past and the readers understand it well. It, of course, is different from Indonesian. When we only say, "Pestanya ditunda." (The translation of "The party was canceled."), the readers will still ask when the party is canceled. It happens because Indonesian tense is not inflected through verb forms or expressed structurally, but is instead implied through the use of temporal adverbs when needed , but English is on the contrary. So, we must add specific time signal to make our Indonesian sentence well understood by the readers. (Please go to as the reference).

The key difference between English and Indonesian also happens in the context of word formation, especially in the phrase structure. In translating the Indonesian phrase "baju biru" into English, of course, cannot be directly translated to "dress blue" as "baju" means "dress" and "biru" means "blue". It's beyond that as there's a rule in each language. We are supposed to translate the phrase to "blue dress" not "dress blue" as the language structure between English and Indonesian is often inverted. The word number 1 in Indonesian becomes number 2 in English and the word number 2 in Indonesian becomes number 1 in English. This rule applies the same, of course when we translate the phrase from English to Indonesian.

Here are some examples to make the discussion clear.
From Indonesian to English
Anak pintar = Smart boy not Boy smart
Apel manis = Sweet apple not Apple sweet
Mobil baru = New car nor Car new
Proz yang luar biasa = Great Proz not Proz great
What about "lapangan udara"?
From English to Indonesian
New bike = Sepeda baru not Baru sepeda
Cute cat = Kucing lucu not Lucu kucing
Lovely flower = Bunga indah not Indah bunga
Delicious food = Makanan lezat not lezat makanan
Fried chicken - Ayam goreng not goreng ayam

As professional translators we are supposed to improve our quality all the time. This is done to make our translations perfect and gaps between one source language to one target language can be minimized. In this case, we are supposed to watch over the key differences of the language pairs we are handling.

Copyright, 1999-2006. All rights reserved. -
Between English and Indonesian
Author: Ahnan Alex
English to Indonesian translator
Platinum since Sep 4, 2010 
By Ahnan Alex
Published on 03/7/2010
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