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Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
(Non)-equivalence at word level (translation of the word ‘home’)
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 05:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 10, 2006

Ave prozians!

We all know there are a couple of words which are untranslatable (at least the ideal translation we all have in mind and look for every minute of our lives.)

There are also other words which can be translated but they demand much more thought from us. Whenever I need to translate the word ‘trámites’ (approx. ‘errands’) into English I am confronted with all the limits linguists mention (this is a highly culture-specific word). Every time I look at ‘her’ (sorry, 'palabra' [word] is feminine in Spanish and I can’t help but see words in that way) I say: Oh, not you! not you AGAIN! (I am sure you have your own nightmares and the list gets longer as time goes by… Those who have just started should better know the truth from the very beginning.

I am studying Mona Baker’s “In other words” and I find this paragraph:

“Home has no direct equivalent in Chinese; in fact it is difficult to translate into most languages. In the examples above, it is replaced by Chinese-near equivalents which are both less expressive and more formal." […]

The examples above are the examples below (original and back-translation).

The panda’s mountain home is wet and lush.
(The mountain habitat of the panda is wet and lush.)

The panda’s mountain home is rich in plant life…
(The mountain settlements of the panda have rich varieties of plants.)

I had never realized before, but, yes, the word ‘home’ may, sometimes, cause difficulties when translating. Sometimes it obviously has to be translated as ‘vivienda’ (may be the most comprehensive word in Spanish? , i.e. a superordinate.) Sometimes, I need time to decide which Spanish word will convey the meaning in the best way.

What do you think about Baker’s words about ‘home’: “in fact it is difficult to translate into most languages”?

It sometimes happens to me (my pair is English > Spanish), do you ever find it difficult (or not that easy) to translate the word 'home' from English into other languages?

Au



In other words. Mona Baker
(Routledge, page 30.)


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Ruben Berrozpe  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
Home = Inicio Jan 10, 2006

LOL! Sorry, that's the first thing that came to my mind... "¡¡¡¡deformación profesional!!!!"

Cheers,

Rb


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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:06
French to English
+ ...
"home" is culturally dependent Jan 10, 2006

The concept of "home" is highly variable from one culture to another, as it carries with it connotations of family units, the composition of which differs significantly from one culture to another, and can also be laden with culturally-dependent political undertones, as in the current debate in the United States about same-sex couples making a "home" together. There are also global political connotations; the United States now has a Department of "Homeland Security" to protect the American "homeland," which should probably be taken to refer to the concept of a national "home" that separates the American "us" from the foreign "other."

[Edited at 2006-01-10 15:09]


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 11:06
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Slighly off the point Jan 10, 2006

Why is "homely" ugly?

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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
French to English
A loaded word Jan 10, 2006

I would say that for any non-human context, any word that corresponds to "where the creature lives" is probably fine, and I see no problem with "habitat" for pandas; after all, we don't want to get all anthropomorphical about them

However, for us humans, care is probably required! I remember that at the age of about 25, some 7 years after what we call "leaving home" (i.e. my parents' house) and having been resident in a variety of places in the intervening period, I moved into a girlfriend's flat. Quite unconsciously, however, I never referred to her flat as "home"; "home" was still where my parents lived, despite the fact that they had moved, twice, from where I grew up & went to school, etc. It was always "the flat", or "Xxxx's place/flat" or some other device which avoided calling it "home". As I say, this was quite undeliberate on my part, and yes, she did notice, and yes, we did split up later!

When I lived in Paris for a couple of years, I also noted a tendency amongst the ex-pats there to use "home" to refer to England (in the case in point), although some would use the same word to refer to where they currently lived.

So it would be quite right as far as I'm concerned to say that there is more to the word "home" than "place of residence", as you have correctly identified. How you convey that in Spanish, if at all, I'm afraid I couldn't say.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
French to English
Answer Jan 10, 2006


Stephen Rifkind wrote:

Why is "homely" ugly?


Because home is where ugly people should remain at all times, or at least during daylight hours, in order not to frighten small children and animals with their grotesque features.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:06
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
That's because "home" is so unspecific Jan 10, 2006

Most languages are more precise than English and have developed more equivalents for slightly different cases of usage. But it happens that the Finnish "koti" can be used almost as broadly as home and its combinations.
Regards
Heinrich


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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:06
French to English
+ ...
English is a very rich medium Jan 10, 2006


Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Most languages are more precise than English and have developed more equivalents for slightly different cases of usage.


English is generally considered to be one of the more precise languages in the world, as it has many more synonyms with subtle nuances of meaning than most other languages. It has, for example, many more words than French or Spanish (bearing in mind the difficulties associated with counting words). Differences in meaning can often be slight and have largely arisen because of the history of English's development. The word "house," to take an example semantically linked to the current discussion of "home", is of Anglo-Saxon origin and, like most Anglo-Saxon words, has a different meaning than the Norman French-based synonyms that entered the language after 1066 (in this case, "mansion" or "residence").

This was written, by the way, from Washington DC, which is one of the places pandas are at "home."


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 05:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
generation gap Jan 10, 2006


Ruben Berrozpe wrote:

LOL! Sorry, that's the first thing that came to my mind... "¡¡¡¡deformación profesional!!!!"

Cheers,

Rb


'Inicio' is the translation for 'home' that comes to my mind in the last place... evidence that I am a baby-boomer!

Au


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 05:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
hola Jan 10, 2006


Richard Creech wrote:

English is generally considered to be one of the more precise languages in the world, as it has many more synonyms with subtle nuances of meaning than most other languages.



I agree that English is very precise which is helped by its dynamics: it can easily coin new words (through prefixes, suffixes or resorting to other linguistic mechanisms). The feeling I have after 23 years as a translator (which may or may not appear in Nida's, Baker's, Steiner's or other friends' books/theories) is that English is amazingly straightforward.

Also, English does not have a regulatory body as my language has (Real Academia Española to rule 400 million of Spanish speakers) which, on the one hand, sets up guidelines which are good and necessary, but, on the other, limits Spanish.

One of 'challenges' in these 23 years was the translation of the 'stay-on-tab' concept (if you search you can see me discussing with prozmates in the KudoZ section). Spanish needs to say so many more words to translate those three words!

Regarding the amount of words English, French and Spanish have, hmm... I am not sure that English has a vocabulary larger than that of the other two. It would be great to have access to a reliable source with that information.

Au

[Edited at 2006-01-10 17:01]


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 05:06
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Home is where the heart is... Jan 10, 2006

and I reckon that is what Mr. Bavington's grilfriend objected to in the end

But I just wanted to pop in for this:



Regarding the amount of words English, French and Spanish have, hmm... I am not sure that English has a vocabulary larger than that of the other two. It would be great to have access to a reliable source with that information.


It is a common misconception that the Spanish (and French and Italian as far as I know) translations from English "expand" owing to the number of words of each language, but this in fact relates to our complex syntax grammar rather than the "size" of our language.

Counting words in a language is nearly impossible, but it seems to be the consensus that English has between 400 000 to 600 000 words, of which 200 000 are common use. I'm afraid that Spanish (and French) have about 100 000 to 150 000... rather dissapointing, isn't it?

Of course, these figures don't take into account technical terms, slang, and so on... (the DRAE has about 100 000 entries, and we all know its limitations) but none the less a usual 2:1 ratio is accepted.

I'll dig up some bibliography to back this up later on; I know I have two or three articles on the subject lying somewhere on my HD. Of course, these numbers spring from memory, namely since once I lost a bet on the subject... my money was on Cervantes rather than Shakespeare! Oh well, I am all the wiser now

[Edited at 2006-01-27 16:43]


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 05:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly and yes please! Jan 10, 2006


Rossana Triaca wrote:

this in fact relates to our complex grammar sintax rather than "size" of our language.



Exactly, there are many reasons that have to do with syntax and that explain why English grows (approx. 20/30%) when it 'goes' into Spanish. A good example is the English gerund which is not so frequent in Spanish as it is in English and -in some of its uses- needs to become a clause of 4 or more words. We should also mention that articles are more used in Spanish than in English (people are = la gente es), though Hollywood is an exception where THE END becomes FIN )



I'll dig up some bibliography to back this up later on; I know I have two or three articles on the subject lying somewhere on my HD.


Please!

Au


[Edited at 2006-01-10 19:24]


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 05:06
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
I just... Jan 10, 2006

remembered the name of an author and was able to Google up these two articles regarding word count in Spanish:

El idioma español agoniza por malos hábitos: Emilio Rojas


and

BIENVENIDOS A LA
TRIVIA DEL LENGUAJE
Y ALGO MÁS...


Notice how this clever fellow includes verb conjugations in the count, whooping it by a grand 200 000 at least (by his own numbers)... sad sad

Plus, there is an interesting site on the web that lists English as having 895,479 words (The Global Language Monitor), but of course they include every abstruse term under the sun.

Off to do some work now... but I promise to dig up some more articles when I have the time!

[Edited at 2006-01-11 03:43]


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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 18:06
The English Language Jan 11, 2006


Richard Creech wrote:

English is generally considered to be one of the more precise languages in the world, as it has many more synonyms with subtle nuances of meaning than most other languages. It has, for example, many more words than French or Spanish (bearing in mind the difficulties associated with counting words).


Just a quick note to support Richard's comments. Unfortunately, I can't provide any sources right now, as I'm rushed off my feet. But maybe some other time.

btw, I'm currently reading David Crystal's 'the Stories of English' ... Compelling. I recommend it.

[Edited at 2006-01-11 09:13]


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(Non)-equivalence at word level (translation of the word ‘home’)






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