Badly written originals
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:53
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Oct 12, 2006

When translating from English to another language, have you ever had badly written originals (possibly poor translations from a third language)? I have to translate the following, on a toy packet from China (presumedly translated from Chinese originally):

1. The railcar runs with the yellow track, being to run the yellow track in the center, yellow track meeting 180 revolve, with the red track join together.
2. The railcar would with yellow revolve orbitally the route run.
3. The railcar wills continue to run with the red and blue color track, running the in command of set in blue color, revolving 180 degrees and run toward the original route, running the yellow track in the center. The yellow track revolves 180 degrees more join together with blue color orbit, then revolving with the website 180 degrees run, then run to return to the original route."

Can you imagine a child understanding this?

By the way, if anyone could shed light on what they are trying to say, it would be a great help!


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:53
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
My version Oct 12, 2006

Translation:

1. The railcar runs on the yellow track. The yellow track runs towards the centre in a semi-circle and meets up with the red track in the middle.
2. The railcar is intended to go round the board on the yellow track.
3. The railcar continues round the board on the red and blue tracks, following the semi-circle and returning to the beginning. From this point it then runs towards the centre on the yellow track again, and, after that, once more on the blue track, returning eventually to the beginning.


What do others think?

Astrid

[Edited at 2006-10-12 16:47]


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Marta Fernandez-Suarez  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
English to Spanish
very impressed Oct 12, 2006

Hi

Yes, Paul, I think translators deal with badly written texts all the time, though this seems extreme! Ideally, you would see the game and everything would be clear... In my case, I have queried on sentences, and then it turned out the people writing them did not know themselves what they meant (because some of the texts were made by copy-pasting what others had written)

Astrid, it is very impressive that you managed to make sense of this. It all seemed clearer after your intervention. Maybe this needs changing (but I could not possibly say for sure)

in 1.
"runs towards the centre">
>"runs in the inner route" or
>"runs in the route in the centre"

in 3.
"and meets up with the red track in the middle">
>"and meets up with the red track"


Kind regards,

Marta

[Edited at 2006-10-12 17:21]


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Gabriela Lozano  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
This is too much! Oct 12, 2006

I'm pretty sure this was translated from Chinese into English by using a translation machine; it has no human logic. (ha, ha)

Yes, I agree with Marta, Astrid's skills to give sense to the nonesense is impressive.

I can't even start to read this "riddle" without a headache.

Perhaps you should point this out to your client and ask for a better "original". Or at least charge an extra fee for riddle solving. Seriously, the client needs to know about this.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-10-12 19:22]


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Can Altinbay  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:53
Japanese to English
+ ...
I don't think so Oct 12, 2006

linaza wrote:

I'm pretty sure this was translated from Chinese into English by using a translation machine; it has no human logic. (ha, ha)

Yes, I agree with Marta, Astrid's skills to give sense to the nonesense is impressive.

I can't even start to read this "riddle" without a headache.

Perhaps you should point this out to your client and ask for a better "original". Or at least charge an extra fee for riddle solving. Seriously, the client needs to know about this.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-10-12 19:22]


The translation is too good (yes, I know) for machine translation. Yes, I see "translations" like this all the time. Yes, they are actually done by people. I have compared them against machine translations of the same source. The human translations are still much better, which isn't saying much.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:53
French to English
Figure of 8 ??? Oct 12, 2006

4 semi circular chunks of track, 2 x yellow, 1 x blue, 1 x red. The 2 yellow chunks form one loop in the figure of 8, and the red + blue form the other loop.

The train can either just go round the yellow loop, or start on the yellow loop, cross over to the red section of the other loop, go round onto blue section of that same loop, then join the yellow loop again, on the second yellow section, where it eventually ends up where it started.

Just an idea:-) I confess I have no idea where the website fits into the scheme of things.... maybe it means the bit in the middle of the figure of 8 where the loops intersect...


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
New KudoZ category needed for this sort of text? Oct 12, 2006

As I suggested on a KudoZ page today, maybe there should be a Gibberish to English pair for texts like these.
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1590270


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craigs
Local time: 10:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Brilliant Oct 13, 2006

Jack Doughty wrote:

As I suggested on a KudoZ page today, maybe there should be a Gibberish to English pair for texts like these.
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1590270


And qualifications would include living overseas with a bunch of people that think they know your language


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 17:53
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Remeber to update your TM Oct 13, 2006

So the next time such stuff comes up you have the translation ready, 100% match!
Cheers!
Heinrich


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 16:53
French to English
+ ...
and there is that other case..... Oct 13, 2006

.....the originals that look wonderful on first sight but are what I refer to as "candy-floss" - you know that sugary stuff you (used to) get in fairgrounds. It is all air and when you sink your teeth into it, there is nothing there.
I'm looking at a text right now that is written in pompous French, full of long words and elegant phraseology. But when I try to produce something in English, I soon realise that it is virtually impossible other than reproducing hot air...
And I'm not working on a translation, just trying to produce a paper based on this and other input. I would hate to have to translate it because the result would be stilted however hard I tried. And I would defy anyone to do better.

Why do writers not at least try to understand their target audience and adapt their style to the local mentality? But there I'm asking for miracles....


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
German to English
Did you receive it by SMS... Oct 13, 2006

...by any chance?
That could account for the standard
I deal with so-called user manuals quite a lot, including many that originate in the Far East. I think it's wrong to believe that they are translated - my thought is that the person writing the text believes s/he is writing original English.
DB


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 16:53
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
ever ready to help Oct 13, 2006

Paul Dixon wrote: ...By the way, if anyone could shed light on what they are trying to say, it would be a great help!


The simplest is to send this backtranslation to the client to proofread it:

1. railcar 运行与黄色轨道, 将跑黄色轨道在中心, 黄色轨道遇见180 旋转, 与红色轨道一起加入。2. railcar 以黄色orbitally 会旋转路线奔跑。3. railcar 意志继续运行与红色和蓝色颜色轨道, 跑在集合命令在蓝色颜色, 旋转180 度和奔跑往原始的路线, 跑黄色轨道在中心。黄色轨道旋转180 度更多加入与蓝色颜色轨道一起, 那么旋转与网站180 度奔跑, 然后跑返回到原始的路线。"


You will need to explain railcar to the customer - must have the same meaning in this context as when Germans say "ich verstehe nur Bahnhof".


regards

your ever-ready-to-help

Vito


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Mark Gallacher
Denmark
Local time: 16:53
Danish to English
SISO principal Oct 16, 2006

last week in a public library in Denmark I was browsing through the books in the languages/translation section.
I came across a very learned book in Danish on the problems of translation. The book had a lot of theoretical debate on language as well as very practical chapters on the business of translation.

In the introduction of the book, one of the points dealt with was the quality of the original text. The author of this learned book on translation, quoted an unnamed English translator, who said he sometimes had to use the "SISO" principal which was... "shit in shit out"


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Robert M Maier
Local time: 16:53
English to German
+ ...
bad "translations" in originals, too... Oct 23, 2006

Here's a variant of the gibberish-to-whatever phenomenon: in translations of texts for a general gothic/horror audience, sometimes I come across text passages that are supposedly in another language. I have got used to English source texts abusing my native and target language German, apparently there is /something/ deeply Gothic about its sound (or just orthographic impression!) for anglo-saxon readers... my favourite in this league was always an invented ancient German tome, allegedly entitled "Unaüsprechlichen Külten". I shudder to think how this is supposed to be pronounced...

But, that's not the point. Rather... from this, I have learned to be highly suspicious of just anything non-English that I encounter. Given free hand to do so by my publishers, and with the help of international friends, I have reintroduced Italian names to Italian orthography ("Gheorgio"?!), shifted Arabic from the Masr to the Rif, and what not. But sometimes it's still breathtaking - like, coming across a "French" letter and its translation (actually the other way round, of course), and suspecting the French to be a bit fishy: "le vieux garcon 12-years" does not feel particularly good even to my rudimentary knowledge of the language!
So I send the text to a French friend and, waiting for the answer, start fishing around... literally. Turns out the English text had been entered into Babelfish and the output had gone into print *directly*, with out even removing the hexadecimal output ("=2F", or whatever) generated by some special characters!
8o 8o 8o 8o 8o


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