Translating Plural Form [English > Indonesian]

‘There is always ‘black’ and ‘white’ in our life, and to decide to be ‘black’ or ‘white’ is a matter of time and choice’ — Random Quote from ProBahasa

Translating a singular form of English into the designated target language can be easy and even easier than translating a plural form. It is due to the fact that there are many factors underlying this matter; space issue when dealing with website/UA/UI translation or localization, cosmetic issue, etc. However, the most important thing is that they can be well managed and target language can be produced at its best equivalent.

Plural form in English can’t always be eliminated when appearing in the target language. Some fellow translators consider that it is not necesssary to make the plural form of the English apper in the target. The reason behind it is the space issue, cosmetic issue or other illogical issues. Looking deeply at the source, there will be variants like:

  • drive
  • drives

They both appear in the same file and are close, in location, each other. Semantically and from the marketing prospective, the writer wants to make them appear in the target as well. When plural form, related to the issue above, is not sufficiently considered, the target will be like this:

  • hard disk
  • hard disk (plural form – and there is no difference between drive and drives)

The plural form disappears in the target while the writer wants to show the plural form. The essence of the source language is ‘lost’ in the target language.

That is the simple issue that translators often ignore though it is not ALWAYS GOOD to make the plural form of the source appear in the target due to specific issue.

In English, the plural form of most nouns is created simply by adding the letter s

  • Cat tool –> Cat tools
  • smartphone –> smartphones
  • computer –> computers
  • dollar –> dollars
  • website –> websites
  • application –> applications, etc.

(There are many ways to identify the plural forms of English and how they look like – kindly check here.)

In Indonesian, to create a plural form is not simply by adding the as English plural form is. There are many ways to create plural form in Indonesian simply by:

  • repeating the word, e.g., komputer-komputer (computers), aplikasi-aplikasi (applications), situs web-situs web (websites), etc.
  • adding the cardinal numbers before the nouns, e.g., 2 komputer (2 computers),  3 aplikasi (3 applications), 4 situs web (4 websites), etc. (no need to repeat the word)
  • adding word ‘beberapa’, e.g., beberapa komputer (computers), beberapa aplikasi (applications), beberapa situs web (websites), etc. (no need to repeat the word and word ‘beberapa’ is equivalent to word ‘some’ in English)
  • adding word ‘banyak’, e.g., banyak komputer (computers), banyak aplikasi (applications), banyak situs web (websites), etc. (no need to repeat the word and word ‘banyak’ is equivalent to word ‘many’ in English) 
  • adding word ‘berbagai’, e.g., berbagai komputer (computers), berbagai aplikasi (applications), berbagai situs web (websites), etc. (no need to repeat the word and word ‘berbagai’ is equivalent to word ‘various/a variety of’ in English) 

There may be some other ways to create plural form in Indonesian not covered in this article, however, the above rules are ones mostly used. Let us bring you to the larger examples of how to produce the plural form in the target when dealing with English plural forms as the source.

e.g.

  • There are ways to produce good translation using CAT tool. The target variants, as there is no specific number mentioned, can be:
  • Ada cara-cara untuk menghasilkan terjemahan yang bagus menggunakan alat CAT. (repeating word to show the plural form in the target)
  • Ada banyak cara untuk menghasilkan terjemahan yang bagus menggunakan alat CAT. (using word ‘banyak/many’ to show the plural form in the target)
  • Ada beberapa cara untuk menghasilkan terjemahan yang bagus menggunakan alat CAT. (using word ‘beberapa/some’ to show the plural form in the target)
  • Ada berbagai cara untuk menghasilkan terjemahan yang bagus menggunakan alat CAT. (using word ‘berbagai/various/a variety of’ to show the plural form in the target)

This will be a mistake when word ‘ways’ in the source does not appear in the target as the writer wants to show that there are 2 ways or more in order to produce good translation using CAT tool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s