The Devil is in the Details – How This Rule of Thumb Applies to Translations

The Devil is in the details and failure to pay attention to them can lead to a completely inaccurate interpretation.

it makes sense to pay attention to the fine print when signing a service agreementAlmost everyone would agree it makes sense to pay attention to the fine print when signing a service agreement or contract.

That's because a careful reading might reveal that a particular clause favors – or injures – one of the parties. Paying attention to each item, no matter how trivial it may appear to be, has become so important that you'll often hear people recite the proverb,

"the devil is in the details".

This rule of thumb also applies to the world of translations.This rule of thumb also applies to the world of translations. Failure to pay attention to details can lead to terms and expressions being misused, compromising the end reader's understanding or – worse yet – leading the person to a completely inaccurate interpretation.

Life teaches us to pay attention to those small, seemingly insignificant moments because they're the very details that can cause life-altering events. For that reason, we can never let our guard down. Remember, the Devil is in the details, always!

For instance, if you translate business or legal documents, you've surely come across this commonly used English expression:

BUT NO LIMITED TO

"the services shall be free from all defects caused by errors or omission of any kind including, but not limited to, errors and omissions"

"consequential damage such as, but not limited to, loss of production, loss of profit"

The same style applies when using two adjectives that require different prepositions. In such cases, the complement is added only after the last adjective. Take a look at the following example:

this idea is both essential to and consistent with the requirements

Since ESSENTIAL takes the preposition "TO" and CONSISTENT takes the preposition "WITH", the object is only referenced after the second adjective.

she's proud of and satisfied with her work

The same holds true for the example above.

ATTENTION:

This style doesn't exist in Portuguese!

So, when translating sentences like the ones below,

"make sure the services are free from all defects caused by, but not limited to, errors or omission of any kind" or

"the services shall be free from all defects caused by errors or omission of any kind including, but not limited to, errors and omissions",

don't be tempted to reproduce the English style!

The following 'translations' should be avoided at all cost.

"certifique-se de que os serviços estejam livres de todos os defeitos causados por, mas a eles não se limitando, erros ou omissão de qualquer tipo"

"os serviços deverão estar livres de todos os defeitos causados por erros ou omissão de qualquer tipo incluindo, mas não se limitando a, erros e omissões"

Instead, consider something like these:

"certifique-se de que os serviços sejam entregues sem nenhum defeito, tais como erros ou omissão de qualquer tipo"

"os serviços serão entregues sem nenhum defeito, incluindo, entre outros, erros ou omissão de qualquer tipo"

As you can see, the English expression "BUT NOT LIMITED TO" can be translated as "TAIS COMO" or "ENTRE OUTROS", because that's exactly what it means!

Now take a look at how a reliable database handles this detail.

We searched the expression "but no limited to" in AVRO dx and see what we found:

Reliable source

Incluindo, entre outros, | tais como (NOTA: Não recomendamos o uso da tradução literal dessa expressão, ou seja, "não limitado a" ou "não se limitando a" = NOTE: The literal translation of this expression, that is, 'não limitado a' or 'não se limitando a' is not recommended) (itens que foramespecificados podem incluir outros itens que não foram identificados, mas, mesmo assim, são cobertos pelas condições declaradas na cláusua = items that have been specifically mentioned may include additional items that have not been identified, yet are covered by the conditions stated in the clause) (she has a wide range of athletic hobbies, including, but not limited to, fencing, rock climbing, and swimming = ela tem uma gama variada de passatempos, incluindo, entre outros, esgrima, escalada em rocha e natação)

A well-thought-out, carefully researched translation is what you get when you use AVRO dx... removed from the pitfalls of the devilish details.

AVRO dx is a comprehensive (English-Portuguese-English) reliable database containing over 250,000 primary entries, thousands of technical terms from all segments, over 3,700 pictures, plus helpful example sentences and explanations.

Watch the video below. It shows how important AVRO dx's content has been for translators in Brazil and abroad and that includes helping them avoid getting mired in the linguistic garbage that litters the Internet landscape.

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