The aim of a summary translation is usually to allow the reader to understand the key points of the original document. It is not a word-for-word translation of the original. This can be applied, for example, to merger and acquisition transactions, or litigation discoveries. These often entail large volumes of material that need to be examined for relevance; if a document is found to be irrelevant then there is no need for a full translation. For this case a summary translation is the most cost-effective option.
Summary translations may also be beneficial in situations where the turnaround time is very tight. A professional translator will read through a document to assess the most important points. The document is then summarized and translated into the target language. This will provide the reader with a basic and essential understanding of the context. Although a summary translation is not ideal for publishing or distribution, it may meet the specific needs within a given situation.
Summary translation may also be known as “gist” translation or preliminary translation. However, this these terms are not standarized within the translation industry. Some translation agencies can take gist translation to mean simply a machine translation. For others a preliminary translation can be a draft. That is, when the document first gets translated by the translator. A review by the editor and proofreader has still not been performed. It should be noted that these types of translations are usually intended for in-house use, not publication.
For more information on summary translation, or to discuss your specific situation and whether summary translation is appropriate, please contact us.