Is it better to start a translation bottom up or top down? Should you start with simple words and phrases? Or with the text in its context and culture?

Most translators proceed from the macro to the micro level, from the top down, taking elements such as the type of document and the context as starting points for deciding translation stategies. And this is valid theortetically, for the trained linguist.

But for those who are not trained linguists, it can be difficult to follow. There is a problem. There is too much to take in at once. An excessive emphasis on context and document type can obscure the fact that meaning is realized through wording.

Translating words and phrases out of context can be futile, but it is equally useless to try to translate without understanding how individual words, phrases and structures control and shape the overall meaning of a text.

Both top-down and bottom-up are valid in their own way.

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