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Neologisms
Thread poster: RHELLER
RHELLER
United States
Local time: 01:10
French to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2005

This seems to be a very hot topic for translators.

Definition: A new word, expression, or usage

My question for all of you: should the translator be the one to coin new terms? or should this be left to specialists in the field?

and: what should a translator do when no term in the target language accurately describes the source-language term? We recently had such an example in English monolingual kudoz, coming from the Russian.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:10
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
A very good question! Nov 23, 2005

Rita Heller wrote:
This seems to be a very hot topic for translators.
Definition: A new word, expression, or usage.


And really hot. Moreover, I think it's not just a coincidence that Russian is mentioned.

Each language has it's own problems nowadays. For English, I believe, the main problem is that the language, being a `lingua franca', loses it's richness and is reduced to some simple, X-thousand word vocabulary. For Russian, the problem is an abundance of borrowed words.

After the former USSR opened the borders and many people got an opportunity to get out and live in the USA and other English-speaking countries, anyone who lived/lives there and understands English started to consider him/herself as a translator. Many of these people were not educated enough to translate, the only thing they were able to do was to transliterate, so now we have a `half-educated' language, spoiled by borrowings from English.

The main fields are technologies (especially computer-related) and marketing. English grammar is very different from the Russian one, so gerunds and many other words are alien to the Russian style. At the same time, the technological advances of the Western world force the Russian terminology to second them, and in the result we see a great many terms and notions simply transliterated into Russian from English. And it's a sad picture, I have to admit. The extensive usage of `nouns deriving from verbs' (which the gerund is for us) in Russian is considered both as a bad style and as an unnecessary borrowing of words.

In many cases like `marketing', `merchandising', or a lot of the mobile phone applications Russian language gives it's place to a simple transliteration of English words. I'm inclined to think that we as translators are responsible for the grim situation. It's our neglect to our own languages which led to the situation.

We have to understand our role as a balancing force between new terms coming into life in our languages and our duty as keepers who have to prevent borrowings to enter our native languages without a real necessity.

[Edited at 2005-11-23 18:10]


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:10
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
See topic below Nov 23, 2005

Dear Rita,

Recently I opened a similar topic that you may find relevant to your topic:

http://www.proz.com/post/282079

kind regards,
Csaba


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:10
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
neologisms and word borrowing Nov 23, 2005

Also see:
book on word-borrowing by Michael Picone
http://www.proz.com/post/222255#222255
I give info there on the book "Anglicisms, Neologisms and Dynamic French" by Michael D. Picone, and a link to my book review of it.

and also the last few paragraphs of:
la variation phonologique et la langue écrite
http://www.proz.com/post/196942#196942

Jeff


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 01:10
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
aficionado, coup, shlep, angst Nov 23, 2005

Hi guys,

The Russian word in question was Propiska

The asker explained that this refers to "de-registering" when one moves. We tried to find a comparable procedure but neither the UK nor the U.S. seems to have one. Many of us protested that this is not an English word but the asker was put in an awkward situation.

I was thinking of other foreign terms that have entered the English language because they are "special", like aficionado, coup, shlep, angst, nom de plume. We use them everyday but at one time they were new to the language.

I think in the propiska case I would prefer that the translator bring a new word into the English language (with an explanation in parentheses or as a footnote) than use de-register which really doesn't mean anything to us. An explanation would be necessary for that word as well because it is a procedure that we are unfamiliar with in the English-speaking world.

What do the rest of you think about that?

to Csaba: I saw your forum but it is mainly aimed at those who translate FROM English; I am aware of those issues in the French language but have not had to grapple with them personally.


[Edited at 2005-11-24 01:47]


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:10
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
translators can coin technical terms Nov 23, 2005

Rita Heller wrote:
My question for all of you: should the translator be the one to coin new terms? or should this be left to specialists in the field?


This reminds me back when I was working on my Master's thesis in Linguistics in France. I had written a conference paper (in English) on a new concept ("Former Lexifier Language Acquisition ") that I had been working on. It also got published in the Working Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics:
http://linguafranka.net/saintluciancreole/workpapers.htm

Then I decided to develop that idea in one of the chapters of my thesis (written in French). So I had to translate the term into French, but also had to write in a footnote why I had chosen the specific wording in French (l'Acquisition de l'ancienne langue lexificatrice) over another way to say it (lexifieuse).

So I guess the answer to your question is yes and yes, because in that case, I was playing both the role of the specialist, and the role of the translator.

So coin away linguistically, but just make sure you get coins ($$$) back in return for the labor.

Jeff

[Edited at 2006-01-28 22:20]


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 09:10
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Confused, again Nov 23, 2005

Hi Rita,

I find the following not a little confusing.

"I think in the propiska case I would prefer that the translator bring a new word into the English language (with an explanation in parentheses or as a footnote) than use de-register which really doesn't mean anything to us"

I find at least two contradictions here.

Firstly, you would prefer the translator "bring a new word into the English language", but this "word" requires "an explanation...or ...a footnote" - hardly a very useful word if we have to explain what it means from the outset.
I don't see the viability, advantage or usefulness of this approach.

Secondly, you dislike the use of "de-register" because "it doesn't mean anything to us".
Yet your preferred solution obviously doesn't "mean anything to us" either, because it requires an explanation for anyone to make sense of it.

As those of you who've bothered to follow the link will have realised, I'm the "culprit" in this case.

Perhaps I'm also guilty of obtuseness, but I don't really see what you're driving at.

Cheers,
Andy


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 01:10
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
we have adopted other terms in the past Nov 24, 2005

Andy said, "I don't see the viability, advantage or usefulness of this approach."
--------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Andy,
I posted the link to give a recent real-life example. It has been removed since it seems to make you uncomfortable. I'm sorry that you feel it necessary to get defensive.

Aren't we adult enough to have an intellectual discussion without immediately taking sides? It is very sad if we can't(maybe I should stop posting in the forums).

I am not "driving at" anything. I am posing a question here because this issue is not going away anytime soon.

I do not have a "preferred solution" and I didn't use the term dislike. Culprit is your term, not mine. We all are faced with quandries in our translation work and we do what we feel is necessary. My point was that we have adopted other foreign words, why not propiska?

It probably turned some heads when aficionado was first used in English. People needed some time to understand it; dictionaries had to get up to speed and now it is widely accepted.

Could we not establish some criteria which would make these choices easier for all of us?


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 09:10
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
A bit tricky. Nov 24, 2005

It's a bit tricky, but I guess I would do the following:

1- make absolutely sure that there's no word/words in the target language covering the entire meaning of the source word/words.

2- describe to myself again the entire meaning (including any connotations etc.) of the word/words.

3- attempt again to find a word/words in the target language covering the meaning - perhaps using a very short explanation instead of a word.

4- if the above attempts fail completely, I guess I would put the source word in " " and attach an explanation.

Just some thoughts.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 09:10
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Hi Nov 24, 2005

Hi Rita,

Neither "umcomfortable" nor "defensive". (You do read a lot into things, don't you?)

You might have noticed this next to the word "culprit".
I copied it from a site called "nosenseofhumour.com"

Here's the link. http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1184967. (to the question, not the site)

All I was doing was pointing out the contradictions in your post - which you haven't responded to. It would be interesting to hear your explanations for them.

And also for the new ones that appear in your latest post.

1st post: "I would prefer that the translator bring a new word into the English language"

2nd post: "I do not have a "preferred solution"".

¿En qué quedamos?

But at least now I do know what you're driving at.

"My point was that we have adopted other foreign words, why not propiska?"

OK. Why not?

Simply because it isn't up to us. Translators (the same as "academics" in France or Spain) do not decide what comes into the language or what leaves.
Just look at the RAE. Arguably one of the most useless institutions that exist.

Saludos,
Andy


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Barbara Wiegel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
exact definition of the source term is necessary Nov 24, 2005

I'd like to throw in my two cents worth as well.

I think it's very important to know the exact definition of (in this case) 'propiska'. To my mind, and - dear fellow Russian translators - correct me if I'm wrong, propiska refers to the whole process of registering one's place of residence and not only the deregistration part. If you refer to this process as a whole and need to explain its basics (and background) to people unfamiliar with it (i.e. in the US or the UK) you can talk about 'propiska'. But if just the act of deregistering is meant, I would be cautious of using this term but stick to the (perhaps uncommon) deregistering.

In Germany, for instance, you needn't explain this. You already have two terms for the two actions: Anmeldung (registration) and Abmeldung (deregistration). Every German and every foreigner living in Germany is required to register his/her place of residence with the local authority (=Einwohnermeldeamt; another great term to attempt a translation at) within 2 weeks after moving in. If you fail to do that, you are illegally taking up residence in your new town/city/village.
It also used to be mandatory to deregister when you moved away again. But this has been changed and now it's sufficient to register at the new place and somehow the authority at the new place gets into touch with the authority at the former place and lets them know that you moved and officially registered your address with them. This officially deregisters you at your former place of residence. The actual act of deregistering is now only necessary if you move abroad - you deregister, you get a piece of paper confirming it which you can then present to the German embassy at your new place of living abroad and they, in turn, are then including you in their list of German nationals living in that particular country. This is very important to do - if you need to apply for a new passport, for instance, while living abroad, the German embassy/consulate will accept your application only if you officially moved away from Germany (i.e. have a deregistering confirmation). If not, you are - according to them - still registered somewhere in Germany and have to apply for your passport there.
There is a very on-the-spot term in German for this - it's called "Meldewesen" and could be roughly translated as the "registration/deregistration system". This term is very red-tapey sounding and conveys the complexity of the system (and the madness sometimes) very well. My Spanish teacher (who moved to Germany not too long ago) jokes about this all the time.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:10
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Propiska Nov 24, 2005

Dear Barbara,

Just to clear the things: `propiska' is a legal mark in your document that you live at the certain address. In Russia and in the most of the FSU countries, adult people have an `internal passport', which is the main ID here. In the document you have to have a stamp signifying your address (town, street, building, apartment/flat or a private house). The stamp is crucial for the most of the legal activities here.


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Barbara Wiegel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
another example Nov 24, 2005

Thanks, Kirill, for the explanation.
BTW, how fits the "vid na zhityel'stvo" into this bit? Is the "vnzh" something you need to have before you'll be able to even get your propiska? Or is it something only foreigners get (similar to the Green Card in the US)? I just remember colleagues of mine in Moscow dicussing the status of their vnzh very often...

As for the general discussion: I have another superb example for a term that's really difficult to translate and that's, at least in official speak in Germany, primarily left in its original English form: Gender Mainstreaming.
I found a couple of translations but all of them were longer than the original expression and most of them translated in a roundabout way. None of them fit as snugly into sentences as 'gender mainstreaming'. So the term "gm" has become widely accepted in Germany. I doubt that the majority of the German population will be able to explain what it is but this applies to many pure German expressions or Germanified words of foreign origin (Latin, Greek etc.) as well.
In the ministry where I work, there even is a task force Gender Mainstreaming and nobody even bothered to translate the task force's name into German. It was introduced as it is and everybody had to accept that.

Best,
Barbara


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fareedeh ghassemi
Local time: 11:40
English to Farsi (Persian)
"should this be left to specialists in the field?" Nov 24, 2005

I want to discuss about another part of your comment:
"should this be left to specialists in the field?"
In my country specialists in different fields have coined very good equivalents for English terms in Persian language but translators who always translate in different fields are not informed, so when one translator find a new term he/she must perform an extensive search among different sources, books, even call to different persons to find its equivalent and if he/she couldn't find the right one may be in the future editors/ reviewers would reject her/his work and it would be remained unpublished. I suggested my colleagues one site in internet to be designed to collect such terms, but until now I couldn't find and propose one mechanism in order to this idea be realized.


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:10
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Like a Green Card Nov 24, 2005

Yes, Barbara, I believe the Russian term is the translation of the USA gov's and other countries' practice of waiting a bit until the person is ready to become a citizen. It's more about citizenship in the country, than about the detailed address where the person lives.

Anyway, I would like to get back to the initial - and fascinating! - subject stated by Rita. I think this forum topic is more about when and how we as translators create new words in our native tongues to name new phenomena in our so-fast-changing world.


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