This video by the Spanish Ministry of Affairs is an example of a translation that has no mistakes per se, but is still not a good translation.
Spain is greatly enriched by its diversity of people, cultures, and languages. #ForwardTogether pic.twitter.com/TDkODHFBCR
— SpainMFA 🇪🇸 (@SpainMFA) November 27, 2017
In the following table, the first column lists some of the expressions that don’t sound natural in English; the second column shows some proposed solutions.
|Unnatural phrases used in the video||Alternatives that sound more natural|
|"more than four and a half million foreigners habitually reside in Spain"||"more than four and a half million foreign nationals have made Spain their home"|
|"75 million inbound tourists will visit our country"||"75 million tourists will visit our country"|
|"1 in every 10 inhabitants of Spain is a foreigner"||"Foreign nationals make up 10% of the population"|
|"from all five continents"||"from across the world" (English speakers don't use the five-continents model!)|
|"Did you know that there are more than 100,000 different surnames from all imaginable origins in Spain"||"More than 100,000 different surnames reflect the diverse backgrounds of the people living in Spain" ("origins in Spain" in the published translation is misleading)|
|"this melting pot not only derives from people from other countries, but also from different regions of Spain"||"This melting pot is a result of migration from abroad, but also migration among the different regions of Spain"|
|"No xenophobic political party has ever held a parliamentary representation"||"No xenophobic political party has ever won a parliamentary seat" or "has ever been represented in parliament"|
|"Spain is a multilingual, non-denominational and open state"||"Spain is a secular country with a multilingual, tolerant society"|
|"We actively foster the integration of different peoples"||"We help people from a range of different countries and cultures to integrate in Spanish society"|
|"Our diversity is a source of social and cultural wealth, as well as an important economic asset"||"Spain's social and cultural diversity is a major* economic asset"|
*I believe the word “important” is a translation error here, though some colleagues may disagree. The Spanish word importante often means big/large/major, rather than important. I believe that is the author’s intended meaning here.
As mentioned above, the expressions in the left-hand column are not wrong. It’s just that the turns of phrase are not commonly used in English, whereas the original version in Spanish used common, everyday phrases. The result is a text that sounds strange to an English speaker’s ear and doesn’t achieve the same result as the Spanish text.
Make sure you use a good translator if you want a text that sounds natural in the target language!