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Corresponding writing in your "source" language and sounding professional
Thread poster: Deborah Hoffman
Deborah Hoffman  Identity Verified

Local time: 10:26
Russian to English
+ ...
Dec 13, 2007

I can't be the only one with this problem...I translate Russian to English and have done mostly literary and academic projects. Because so few publishers possess Russian I often find myself in the position of doing a lot of doing back and forth with authors or authors representatives, which requires me to write in my non-native language about issues that can sometimes be a little ticklish. I don't want my emails to be "perfect" and I don't mind that they don't sound completely native - they're not - but I do wish to avoid transgressing social cues and/or making really flagrant usage errors that just don't sound right.

Publishers aside it's just something that comes up when I need to consult with an author for whatever reason. I'm no longer in school and feel bad bothering my former Russian classmates to check over an email for me.

What do other people do if or when you have to write back and forth in your second language? Do you have someone checking it for you or just hope for the best?

If there is another forum where people trade editing help back and forth to help each other like this, please let me know! I would be glad to look at anyone's emails in English in exchange for Russian.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:26
Italian to English
+ ...
I ask my partner Dec 13, 2007

I know exactly how you feel, my written Italian is fine when it comes to everyday emails but pretty useless in formal stuff. I'm lucky that my partner is Italian, so when I need to write something a little controversial ("no, I don't give discounts for large volumes, however much you try to insist", for instance) I get my partner to check it over to make sure it won't cause offence.

Anyway, even though I don't need it myself, I think your idea of an editing "swap shop" is excellent - why don't you suggest it in the Proz.com suggestions forum? Or maybe in the translator coop section? I don't know how it would work, but I'm sure there are lots of us who'd be happy to lend a hand and/or get some help in this respect.


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Evgenia mussuri
United States
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
I could trade some Dec 13, 2007

editing with you, Deborah. You can drop me a line to my email address.

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Shannon Jimenez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:26
Spanish to English
I ask my husband Dec 14, 2007

I, too, know how you feel. I find writing in formal Spanish difficult-- like most Americans, I tend to jump right to the point, which can come accross as rude in Spanish. I ask my husband to edit most of my e-mails, but I occasionally ask a Spanish-speaking grad student friend when the context is more academic, since my husband never went to college in a Spanish-speaking country.

I would be happy to participate in an editing-exchange with others rather than having to impose upon my friends, though!

~Shannon


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Nadja Balogh  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:26
Member (2007)
Japanese to German
+ ...
I use Google etc. Dec 14, 2007

When writing a formal Japanese letter or email, I frequently turn to Google for some inspiration. There are lots of nice phrases to be found - but then, Japanese depends very much on the correct use of certain fixed phrases, and this is probably not what you're looking.

Still, I find it quite exhausting, especially if I do not know the client well.


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Marina Soldati  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great idea Deborah! Dec 14, 2007

I know how you feel.

I have only one client who speaks Spanish, so whenever I need to ellaborate some concept, like when I have to explain some choice of terminology, I keep looking up in Google the phrases I intend to use so as not to make serious grammar mistakes o sound old fashioned. The best method I`ve found is to keep the sentences simple and short.

When I want to post in these fora, for instance, I keep revising what I´ve written over and over again.
So I think that some kind of revision exchange woul be great.
Regards
Marina

PS: for English native speakers - please feel free to correct my mistakes.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:26
English to Dutch
+ ...
And what if your client is in a hurry? Dec 14, 2007

What if you need to answer real quick?
If they decide to give you a call?


Everybody knows my native language is Dutch, and if I have to write or say anything in another language (besides English), I always say something along the lines of: Look, I'm trying really hard, and I'm doing this to please you, but this is really the best I can do. My apologies if I make serious mistakes.
And if I've established some kind of comfortable relationship, I sometimes invite them to correct my mistakes. No problem.


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Josée Desbiens
Canada
Local time: 10:26
English to French
Happy to see I am not alone... Dec 14, 2007

I do translate from English to French-Canadian and I feel so stupid when an English client of mine call me when I am in the middle of something else (let's say doing the laundry or preparing dinner for instance). I sometimes have a hard time switching to my secund language while trying to look professional. It is easier by mail. At least, I can check in my dictionaries. People tend to think that we do speak as fluently in our secund language as we do in our native one...

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:26
Italian to English
+ ...
For me it's the opposite! Dec 14, 2007

Josée Desbiens wrote:

I do translate from English to French-Canadian and I feel so stupid when an English client of mine call me when I am in the middle of something else (let's say doing the laundry or preparing dinner for instance). I sometimes have a hard time switching to my secund language while trying to look professional. It is easier by mail. At least, I can check in my dictionaries. People tend to think that we do speak as fluently in our secund language as we do in our native one...


I speak Italian far more fluently than I write it - I speak in Italian far more than I do in English.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 22:26
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Documented communication Dec 15, 2007

I demand e-mail or documented communication for critical matters. THis will prevent further dispute about the job or payment later.
This idea is applied to both mother language and the second language.
Regards,
SL


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bububu  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:26
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
I can help, if you want... Dec 15, 2007

I have a problem with articles in English, and sometimes ask my son to check the most important emails. :0)

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