Reading between the lines: translating the Indonesian herbal product labels

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Tgk Maya Silviyanti
Yunisrina Qismullah Yusuf
Nurul Aida
Amirul Mukminin


This study is carried out to analyze the translation method used by the translator(s) in the labels of Indonesian herbal products. About 20 labels of Indonesian herbal products (for medication and health drinks) were purposively chosen as the subject of this study. A number of 92 sentences in the labels were analyzed and classified based on the form-based and meaning-based types of translations, and within these types, they were further categorized into the composition, function, and direction parts. The results showed that within the composition part, non-translated translation had the highest percentage of use (50%), followed by free translation, and word-for-word translation. While in the function part, almost half of the sentences were free translation (40.74%), followed by word-for-word translation, and communicative translation. Then in the direction part, the free translation had the highest percentage of use (77.78%), with literal translation as the least (4.44%). Among all of the parts, non-translated translations in composition were most employed, perhaps because most herbal names were presented in Latin, and thus, they were not appropriate or less effective to be translated into English. Technical terms in the pharmaceutical field were also prevalent in Latin. Meanwhile, in the function and direction parts, the translation method mostly used was free translation because the words used in both of these parts were commonly used to attract readers or consumers commendably. It can be concluded that the translation method used in different types of texts from Indonesian to English on the herbal product labels still bears problems, and should be further adjusted to the norm of the target language to produce effective and acceptable translation results.


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