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Talk on translation
Thread poster: Andy Bell

Andy Bell  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:05
Member (2002)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Aug 20, 2004

Dear all. As well as my translation business I am also a linguistics student in my 2nd year of part-time study. My linguistics tutor came up with the bright idea that I be a guest speaker to the rest of the students talking about translation, what it's like to be one, etc.
Has anyone given such a talk before and would like to share ideas - even PowerPoint slides if I can be so bold. Otherwise, I'd welcome any creative input to bolster my own ideas.
TIA
Andy


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:05
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some suggestions Aug 20, 2004

How have your linguistics studies influenced your work as a translator?

What do translators need to know that they don't learn in school (both linguistic and business aspects)?

[Edited at 2004-08-20 20:06]


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Pernille Chapman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:05
Member (2004)
English to Danish
+ ...
Talk about a particular project Aug 23, 2004

Dear Andy,

A few years ago, I did a similar talk/workshop for a class of translation students. As they were used to speakers focusing on literary translation, I decided to introduce them to the "real" world, i.e. that of the commercial translator... I brought along some texts from a client, a fashion company specialising in menswear manufacture and sales. My work involved both website and marketing material, and much of the language was very creative/innovative. One of many issues that gave rise to interesting discussions among the students (who had very different cultural backgrounds) was the naming of colours: I learned that names like tobacco and brandy would never have worked in the Chinese market, for instance. To get the students actively involved, I also provided them with an example of a sub-standard translation into English (which happened to be quite amusing), and working in groups, they then changed this into a more appropriate style. I didn't use PowerPoint, but had a link to the company website projected on to a screen in the classroom, which was very useful.
Overall, I had a great experience, and judging from the feedback I received, the students enjoyed themselves, too. A bit of humour always helps to pass the time, and even if your angle is different from mine, I'd strongly recommend that you keep a couple of anecdotes handy...

You're very welcome to drop me an e-mail if you'd like more detailed advice.
Good luck with your talk in any case,

Pernille


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:05
French to English
+ ...
Excellent idea! Aug 23, 2004

I have never given such a talk, but have taken the opposite route to yours - BA in French (literature, language and linguistics), part-time MA in linguistics (done while doing various admin jobs) and now working part-time towards the DipTrans and taking on odd translation jobs when I have the time, and I am failing to see much connection between translation and linguistics. There are, I suppose, many higher-level observations that can be made about the two disciplines and how they can interact. In terms of day to day business, however, there seems to me to be little connection between the two - most translators know next to nothing about linguistics, it seems to me, and it does them no harm in their work.

I would be very interested to hear some of your ideas - in particular, are your studies in linguistics giving you extra insights into the process of translation, or are you just finding it interesting for its own sake?

Yours curiously
Angela



Andy Bell (MITI, NAATI) wrote:

Dear all. As well as my translation business I am also a linguistics student in my 2nd year of part-time study. My linguistics tutor came up with the bright idea that I be a guest speaker to the rest of the students talking about translation, what it's like to be one, etc.
Has anyone given such a talk before and would like to share ideas - even PowerPoint slides if I can be so bold. Otherwise, I'd welcome any creative input to bolster my own ideas.
TIA
Andy


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Andy Bell  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:05
Member (2002)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 26, 2004

Thanks for the interesting replies everyone; I'm juggling this talk with a couple of translation deadlines so will feedback next week for anyone interested.

Best
Andy


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Andy Bell  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:05
Member (2002)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Link between linguistics and translation Aug 26, 2004

Hi Angela, Thanks for your reply it was interesting. I'm baffled though as to how you find no connection between linguistics and translation? My experience has been completely positive and the greater understanding I now have of some of the theory behind what I've been doing in practice for 4 yrs has been enlightening - particularly with regard to prescriptive vs descriptive grammars, syntax, semantics etc. I particularly remember a Norwegian colleague giving me a lecture on a basic grammatical construct (he's now a good friend!), and, bearing in mind that the teaching of prescriptive grammar was pretty well ignored in the UK between '65 and 80, I've never forgotten the experience.

Best
Andy



Angela wrote:


I have never given such a talk, but have taken the opposite route to yours - BA in French (literature, language and linguistics), part-time MA in linguistics (done while doing various admin jobs) and now working part-time towards the DipTrans and taking on odd translation jobs when I have the time, and I am failing to see much connection between translation and linguistics. There are, I suppose, many higher-level observations that can be made about the two disciplines and how they can interact. In terms of day to day business, however, there seems to me to be little connection between the two - most translators know next to nothing about linguistics, it seems to me, and it does them no harm in their work.

I would be very interested to hear some of your ideas - in particular, are your studies in linguistics giving you extra insights into the process of translation, or are you just finding it interesting for its own sake?

Yours curiously
Angela



Andy Bell (MITI, NAATI) wrote:

Dear all. As well as my translation business I am also a linguistics student in my 2nd year of part-time study. My linguistics tutor came up with the bright idea that I be a guest speaker to the rest of the students talking about translation, what it's like to be one, etc.
Has anyone given such a talk before and would like to share ideas - even PowerPoint slides if I can be so bold. Otherwise, I'd welcome any creative input to bolster my own ideas.
TIA
Andy


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:05
French to English
+ ...
Other way round! Aug 28, 2004

I'll expand a bit on what I meant - I didn't want to say that there is no connection! Studying formal linguistics has many benefits for a translator, as you describe. But I've come at it from the other direction - having done a bit of translating as an undergraduate, liked it but pursued other things, and now am returning to it in a systematic and (hopefully) professional way. I've enjoyed all of it. I hope my linguistics background will make me a better translator.

However, just look at this community and this forum in particular - it is called 'linguistics' but contains very little 'real' linguistics, at least as it relates to my studies (at a particularly Chomskyan/minimalist-based institution!). Yet this is a community of extremely good professional linguists, whose general lack of knowledge of linguistics seems to do them no harm at all.

What you said about 'theory and practice' struck a chord as well - I have heard from many directions comments like 'oh, that's just theoretical - when you get into the REAL world, things won't be like that' and so on and so on. Much emphasis is given to the practical, and to that which will make money. I can see the point of such a view, and indeed am trying to make money in this game myself, but I truly believe that standing back and examining what we do is important for the future of this profession. Here I am mostly talking about translation theory, but on a broader scale, the same argument can apply to linguistics - all of us talk every day, but standing back and looking at why and how we talk, and what rules apply when we do so, is important for the better understanding of our humanity.

As you may be able to tell, I have a deadline coming up so am applying my brain to anything but the translation job in hand! Good luck in your talk.

Angela



[quote]Andy Bell (MITI, NAATI) wrote:


Hi Angela, Thanks for your reply it was interesting. I'm baffled though as to how you find no connection between linguistics and translation? My experience has been completely positive and the greater understanding I now have of some of the theory behind what I've been doing in practice for 4 yrs has been enlightening - particularly with regard to prescriptive vs descriptive grammars, syntax, semantics etc. I particularly remember a Norwegian colleague giving me a lecture on a basic grammatical construct (he's now a good friend!), and, bearing in mind that the teaching of prescriptive grammar was pretty well ignored in the UK between '65 and 80, I've never forgotten the experience.


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:05
German to English
+ ...
An analogy.... Jan 16, 2005

I remember, working as a programmer years ago, seeing the following "definition" somewhere:

Computer Science: Academic discipline which has about as much to do with programming as hydrodynamics has with plumbing.

You could say the same about linguistics and translation, too. Of course, hydrodynamics does have a lot to do with plumbing, which doesn't change the fact that you can be a successful plumber without knowing about it. And the same applies to the other two pairs of disciplines. But I think a theoretical understanding of what you do will make you better at it, and in particular better able to cope with novel situations.


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