Many askers give too little context.
Thread poster: Odette Grille

Odette Grille  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:00
English to French
+ ...
Oct 27, 2005

I am sure others have stressed this before, but many askers forget to give context, or give too little.

I love helping beginners, but they should know that translating is not just a matter of looking up a word in a dictionnary...or finding it in a corner of our big brains...

Words swim in cultural contexts and different languages use different words where one's own might use just one and vice versa

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 19:12]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 21:38]


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 17:00
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
I totally agree! Oct 27, 2005

I totally agree with you.
And I don't think it can be stressed enough.

Most times you can ask the asker, and then you'll get the context you needed from the beginning, but it's a hassle, and most times I don't have the time for this.

But....sometimes there simply ISN'T any context, and then obviously the asker is innocent in the matter ;o)


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
See Past Postings Oct 27, 2005

I recently started a discussion on CONTEXT also with a lot of good comments. Check it out.

I always ask for CONTEXT in capital letters, it cannot be stressed enough.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:00
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I wonder what kind of translators they are Oct 27, 2005

Odette Grille wrote:

I am sure others have stressed this before, but many askers forget to give context, or give too little.

I love helping beginners, but they should know that translating is not just a matter of looking up a word in a dictionnary...or finding it in a corner of our big brains...

Words swim in cultural contexts and different languages use different words where one's own might use just one and vice versa

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 19:12]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 21:38]

You're quite right. When I see this absence of context, I wonder in what sense they are "real" translators. Surely anybody who has a little translation skill and a little experience must realise the importance of context, and that, as I sometimes say with only a little exaggeration, "single words cannot be translated".
An example that I have encountered in my work is the Italian "raggio" which, even in the same document, can mean "ray" (of light), "beam" (of light or radar) or the entirely different "radius" (of a circle or sphere).

Even worse is the French word "plot". I have translated it as:
plot (radar plot on a screen)
subrange (of a range of possible values)
switched gain (an attenuator that can be switched on or off)
gain control line (a conductor carrying a logic signal that switches the attenuator on or off)
Of course, these distinctions were clear from the contexts, but if somebody just asks how to translate "plot" in the context of a radar receiver, that's not enough information.

Oliver


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
hear hear!!!!! Oct 28, 2005

Odette Grille wrote:

I am sure others have stressed this before, but many askers forget to give context, or give too little.

I love helping beginners, but they should know that translating is not just a matter of looking up a word in a dictionnary...or finding it in a corner of our big brains...

Words swim in cultural contexts and different languages use different words where one's own might use just one and vice versa

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 19:12]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-10-27 21:38]



well said....! could'nt agree more:-)


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gad
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member
French to English
Then do not answer those questions Oct 30, 2005

If that is how you view their questions, then just skip over their questions. It's as simple as that. Or, if you MUST answer, then just indicate politely that you are giving your best guess, given the lack of context.

I do have to say that I find it ridiculous sometimes when a question includes the subject matter, the sentence and/or paragraph, and the type of document, and the person then cries "more context", as if they need a whole page or something. That often means "I don't know either so I'm going to post a comment that essentially blames the asker for that". LOL.

[Edited at 2005-11-01 19:53]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:00
German to English
Too little context Nov 3, 2005

Odette Grille wrote:

I love helping beginners, but they should know that translating is not just a matter of looking up a word in a dictionnary...or finding it in a corner of our big brains...

Words swim in cultural contexts and different languages use different words where one's own might use just one and vice versa


Thank you for trying to help newcomers to the profession, Odette. When I decided to become a translator 6 years ago, it was people like you who helped me on my arduous path in KudoZ and in forum threads. Unfortunately, I have the impression that many of the beginners you refer to don't read these fora and don't seem willing to learn from the pros.

I'm glad there were people who took the time to point out the weaknesses of my early KudoZ questions and peers who pointed out the weaknesses of my KudoZ answers and didn't just ignore me.

Kim


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