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Too many Proz questions are about style, not translation
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Sep 19, 2008

Many questions in the Kudoz question/answer section are not requests for help in clarifying the meaning of particular terms.

The source words themselves are perfectly clear and simple, and would not require a Kudoz question to explain their meaning.

But often, these simple words have been put together in a particular way that requires the translator to deploy their own literary and writing skills.

Instead, these translators show up in the Kudoz section with requests for help in construing the literary style of the source text and rendering a comparable style in the translation.

Surely that is inherently the task of the translator ?

The frequent appearance of such requests for help suggests to me that there are many translators out there who do not have very well-developed writing skills, do not read much, and who rely too much on CAT tools and glossaries to produce mechanical, unimaginative translations.

When faced with a source text that is creatively written, nuanced, mannered or just quirky, they are unable to deal with it.

Comments?

[Edited at 2008-09-19 09:25]


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 15:19
English to German
+ ...
you are very right... Sep 19, 2008

Hi! The translation alone is only raw material. TEP is normally posted on proz. and not the revision part. Revision includes stylizingng the document, which can be as much expensive as TEP. BR Brandis

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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 15:19
German
+ ...
Agreed. Sep 19, 2008

I don't know about KudoZ (haven't been following that for quite a while) but I definitely agree with you about the lack of imagination and writing skills many translators seem to suffer from (mostly without knowing or acknowledging it).

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be too harsh with translators who are stumped with an expression that is quirky and that they do understand but have trouble rendering it in the target language. I guess we all have those moments occasionally, and input from others can be very helpful in cutting the knot. Sometimes all it takes is some brainstorming with others to come up with an even better creative solution of your own.


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Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 15:19
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
But sometimes a little brainstorming with collegues helps..... Sep 19, 2008

if you just don't find a nice synonym to your term. That has nothing to do with a lack of skills.

But I agree with all of you that sometimes the questions posted here seem

1. either unnecessary for a professional or 2. you get the impression that somebody is posting his/her whole translation text in here...

In such cases I simply don't answer. But I wouldn't mind in taking part in some brainstorming. One hand washes the other, and I am always glad to get professional help here.

Best regards
Sandra


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xxxsavaria
Hungary
Local time: 15:19
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Too many Proz questions are about style, not translation Sep 19, 2008

I cannot add or say anything else to this statement,only that I can and must fully agree with those people who say this.

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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:19
Spanish to English
Translation or style Sep 19, 2008

[quote]Tom in London wrote:

Many questions in the Kudoz question/answer section are not requests for help in clarifying the meaning of particular terms.

The source words themselves are perfectly clear and simple, and would not require a Kudoz question to explain their meaning.

But doesn't translation include getting the right style. If not then translation machines can do the job. A collection of words can have a collection of meanings, depending on the order used and often we translators (yes including me, with all my experience and background training) can have brain-blocks at any time.


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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:19
Member (2006)
English to French
Brainstorming Sep 19, 2008

I am "guilty" of asking such questions, BUT I also love to answers such questions asked by others. So in my case it has nothing to do with a lack of skills.

Sometimes I am simply not sure about what I found, i.e. I think that something better might exists, so I ask a question. I think brainstorming is the best part of Kudoz and the best way to find the right translation.

I prefer answering such questions than answering "non-pro" questions whose answer you will find in any bilingual dictionary.

However, I agree that some people seem to have no creative style or writing skills at all.

Stéphanie


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
The value of translating school Sep 19, 2008

If you go to translating school (or lessons or whatever) this is exactly what it aims to teach you. If you go to face-to-face classes you can also brainstorm with the other students and the teacher. Might it be that the people having these issues by and large are precisely the ones who haven't received any or very little training in translation...

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Patricia Crotty  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
Italian to English
abuse Sep 19, 2008

I don't think there's any problem with a bit of brainstorming help every now and again, it's more to do with the fact that 20 'style' questions in a row by the same poster can lead you to question the whole system.

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David Sirett
Local time: 15:19
French to English
+ ...
Style is part of translation Sep 19, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

Instead, these translators show up in the Kudoz section with requests for help in construing the literary style of the source text and rendering a comparable style in the translation.

Surely that is inherently the task of the translator ?



And finding the correct terminology is not an inherent part of the translator's task?
I don't really understand why you want to separate style from other aspects of translation. IMO questions about style/genre are just as valid and interesting as terminology ones.

David


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Formal training and style issues Sep 19, 2008

Tatty wrote:

If you go to translating school (or lessons or whatever) this is exactly what it aims to teach you. If you go to face-to-face classes you can also brainstorm with the other students and the teacher. Might it be that the people having these issues by and large are precisely the ones who haven't received any or very little training in translation...


I'm sure there are some translators who fall into that category, but I'm equally sure that there are many self-taught translators who have absolutely no problem expressing themselves clearly and using the right register - in any of their languages. If there is any one grouping responsible, I would say it is likely to be those who are not avid readers by nature.

I'm sure a temporary lack of imagination and/or inspiration is much more often caused by stress and/or tiredness - we can all suffer from those and posting a style question can kickstart the brain back into thinking mode.


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Style is part of translation work Sep 19, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

Instead, these translators show up in the Kudoz section with requests for help in construing the literary style of the source text and rendering a comparable style in the translation.

Surely that is inherently the task of the translator ?

Yes, for sure!!! As I wrote in another thread, a translation written in an awful style is an awful translation. Think on the translation of Prime Minister's speech in the best university; now, think on its translation written in slang (very funny indeed).

Tom in London wrote:

The frequent appearance of such requests for help suggests to me that there are many translators out there who do not have very well-developed writing skills, do not read much, and who rely too much on CAT tools and glossaries to produce mechanical, unimaginative translations.

When faced with a source text that is creatively written, nuanced, mannered or just quirky, they are unable to deal with it.

Comments?



For sure, that's why they need to ask for help in Kudoz.

I will add something more: people who translate scientific or technical texts who are unable to understand the source text because they lack the specialized knowledge needed for that task.

[Edited at 2008-09-19 22:45]


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 09:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
No doubt Sep 20, 2008

Tatty wrote:

If you go to translating school (or lessons or whatever) this is exactly what it aims to teach you. If you go to face-to-face classes you can also brainstorm with the other students and the teacher. Might it be that the people having these issues by and large are precisely the ones who haven't received any or very little training in translation...


But I would add that any advanced education (graduate degree, etc.) which included a lot of language and writing (hmmm...a Ph.D. in Comparative Literatures comes to mind) would require the same training and development of skill. No need for everyone to go rushing back to school.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:19
English to German
+ ...
In general: Improving style via brainstorming is what makes a good translator Sep 20, 2008

Example: Headlines in advertising texts (if that is what you mean with questions about style)

To create an ad, a copywriter in an ad agency has
1.) Two weeks
2.) Headlines are created via brainstorming during a team meeting

The copywriter will file and rework this text over and over until it's perfect and it will be reviewed by several team members until it gets any approval.

Because the text is so short, the translator is supposed to create the same creative fireworks within one hour. With the same wittiness, brilliance and all the quirks perfectly localized, of course. Yeah, right.

This has nothing to do with lack of imagination, lack of writing skills or lack of creativity.

It depends on if you want to deliver "translation-fast food" or top-notch results.


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
"self-taught" Sep 20, 2008

"Self-taught" is when you teach yourself from a book or using a method that has been designed for that purpose, you would miss out on the "brain-storming" aspect though, which is what a classroom situation offers you.

But there are many people who translate without having received any guidance or feedback on their translations. It comes as no surprise to me that they have trouble dividing up, balancing and basically coming up with stylish solutions. Reading of course is valuable to a translator, but "primed" reading (where you are already aware of difficulties that translation can throw up) is a far more valuable activity. Really to hold a founded opinion on this subject you would have to have had at least some experience of formal translation studies otherwise you would have no way of knowing what the experience can bring to your translations, and how much easier your professional life is as a result.

[Editado a las 2008-09-20 10:58]


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