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What is interlinear translation?

An interlinear translation is a word-for-word translation that follows the structure of the source text. The translated terms are noted between the lines of the basic text and serve as a comprehension tool for readers. The aim of an interlinear translation is to reproduce the original version as accurately as possible.

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Interlinear translations

The translation is actually an elaborate process. The process is simplified in interlinear translation, which is primarily about translating a text word for word. A coherent translation with correct sentence structure is not the aim; rather the interlinear translation provides an overview of the content of the text.

Structure of an interlinear translation

An interlinear translation follows the structure of the source language. Since the text is translated incoherently word for word, the translation usually has many grammatical errors. Structurally faithful translations enable the reader to study the text as if he or she had mastered the original language.

Difficulties with interlinear translations

Texts that are translated interlinearly are usually only understandable with the help of the source text. In addition, this method assumes that the reader must learn foreign terms and, if necessary, acquire historical knowledge. Especially with older texts, certain losses compared to the original cannot be avoided. For example, some terms are not understandable when translated literally or used in the wrong context. The danger of falsification can be countered with the help of comments and footnotes.

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FAQ: More questions about interlinear translation

What is a literal translation?

This is a translation in which the original text is transferred word-for-word into the target language.

What does interlinear translation mean?

An interlinear translation is a word-for-word translation in which the individual words in the target language, together with synonyms, are noted between the lines of the basic text.

What is an interlinear version?

An interlinear version is a literal translation between the lines of the source text. The term is used synonymously with interlinear translation.

Which programs help with word-for-word translation?

Free programs such as the classic Google Translate, Pons or the Free Language Translator help with word-for-word translation. In addition, there are various free apps to download for smartphone.

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