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NY Times journalist's view of translation
Thread poster: Marcela Robaina Boyd
Marcela Robaina Boyd  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 16:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 3, 2005

Just read David Pogue's second commandment manufacturers should follow to please customers:

"II. Thou shalt hire native English speakers to translate thine instruction manual. "When the camera focus is not so possible, hold the shutter button vaguely until the beeping tone is heard." Is that really how your company wants to address customers?
Talk about New Math. You'll spend millions of dollars developing some breakthrough gizmo, but won't spring for somebody to rewrite your manual in proper English? I know some high schoolers who'd do the job for $50 and 10 free ring tones."

So native speakers is enough... and just for ring tones!

¡Mirá vos!

Marcela Robaina


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Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:59
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Frustration leads us to many things... Nov 3, 2005

Marcela Robaina Boyd wrote:

So native speakers is enough... and just for ring tones!



If I were buying a product that had that ridiculous sounding sentence in its instruction manual, I'd be tempted to do the translation for free too, nevermind the ring tones! (of course, I wouldn't really. I'd need to the money to pay for the phone. ) But seriously, this is a great point, one that more businesses need to wake up and listen to. And in that vein, does Ikea really think that they are saving money by having that stupid little man and no words in their instruction manuals? We actually managed to assemble a table with its legs in the completely wrong position thanks to that little guy. It wasn't until we had people over for dinner that someone figured out what the problem was and we had to start from scratch. But I guess the company doesn't care; afterall, they sold the table. It's not a big deal to them if customers have a hard time assembling it...
LNS


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 15:59
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
It is a problem if we choose to stay away in droves Nov 3, 2005

LSabadosa wrote:
It's not a big deal to them if customers have a hard time assembling it...
LNS


Ikea lost me years ago for this very reason. If many more people choose to do the same, well, it'll be another vacant building with a For Rent sign on it...

Seriously, I do believe these things are changing for the better, thanks to growth in our industry. Sure, there have been a few hiccups, particularly with rates and outsourcing to "cheap" countries, but that will iron itself out. Personally, I find that translations of Chinese products into French have greatly improved over the past 10 years or so, and not only because I've done quite a few of them myself at Canadian rates but because of increased awareness.

This increased awareness has no doubt been bolstered by proz as our community grows, shpaes itself, solidifies...

Nancy


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xxxAWa
Local time: 21:59
English to German
+ ...
More Little Guys ? Nov 3, 2005

LSabadosa wrote:


... And in that vein, does Ikea really think that they are saving money by having that stupid little man and no words in their instruction manuals?
LNS


At a reunion with people I worked with at university I found out that one man there is working for a company providing services for the automotive industry, anything from calculation and design to manuals. What do they focus on with manuals?
On finding ways to use symbols and pictures instead of words so - you guessed it already - they can avoid having to translate the manuals.
Seems like for now Ikea is winning!


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:59
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Umm, is that really what he meant? Nov 3, 2005

You wrote that this guy said:

---
Thou shalt hire native English speakers to translate thine instruction manual. "When the camera focus is not so possible, hold the shutter button vaguely until the beeping tone is heard." Is that really how your company wants to address customers?
---

The example is that of a translation INTO English. For those who need to translate into English, an EMT is a must. But as this is addressed to an English-speaking audience, the generalization conveys the wrong message: always hire native English speakers to translate your manual. If you need to translate a manual written in English into another language, this would actually be the worst thing to do. Am I misguided?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Context Nov 3, 2005

Of course, Mikhail, this guy was speaking in a context of manuals translated into English from other languages. However, I think we can all understand that the generalization would be that a native speaker of the target language should be used.

For instance, if we are marketing in Russia, we should be looking for someone like you.


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#41698 (LSF)
Malaysia
Local time: 03:59
Japanese to English
+ ...
Explanatory Words Nov 3, 2005


that stupid little man and no words


Yeah, those strange faces on that 2 doors in an international hotel,
those gleaming white lines in the middle of the road,
those decorative yellow boxes at road junctions,
those ubiquitous numbered triangles on plastic bottles,
those buttons with cryptic symbols on the TV panel,
those black lines at the back cover of books,
those yellow blinkers at the back of vehicles,
those flashing lights on fire engines,
........

why not have loud speakers blaring "give way, emergency service",
why not have a 5000-page instruction manual with instructions in 100 languages or have a mega warehouse to separate out the various big furniture boxes destined for different countries,
why not have big TV buttons to fit in the wordings,
why not
why not
........

and how simple to have them in words rather than having to pick up the meanings of different symbologies . . .


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 13:59
French to English
+ ...
manuals should be written by native speakers Nov 4, 2005

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

The example is that of a translation INTO English. For those who need to translate into English, an EMT is a must. But as this is addressed to an English-speaking audience, the generalization conveys the wrong message: always hire native English speakers to translate your manual. If you need to translate a manual written in English into another language, this would actually be the worst thing to do. Am I misguided?


Hi Mike!
I think the writer may have been referring to electronics manuals - quasi-incomprehensible - usually written by the engineers themselves in the foreign country, where the items were manufactured. They may have understood English quite well but we translators know that understanding and writing are two distinct talents.

I think he meant: have your English manuals written by native speakers (so that we end-users can understand the instructions!)


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Tatsi Fotini
Greece
Local time: 22:59
English to Greek
+ ...
Ikea is like easy-jet..bt a lot nicer... Nov 6, 2005

One cannot expect from a low-cost company the provision of high services. No one expects from easyjet a meal...
They offer low quality(even though i love Ikea stuff, as much i love flying cheap)
Apart from that in Finland, and in Skandinavian Countries whatsoever, people are used to decoding these messages, they would be outraged if forced to read a whole manual.Other cultures, like the germans or the french need a full text to understand..but this would mean...higher prices..
Besides..DIY is trendy nowadays..:)


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RusTek
United States
Local time: 15:59
Russian to English
talk about the long-suffering translator's long-ignored complaint... Nov 13, 2005

[quote]Marcela Robaina Boyd wrote:

Just read David Pogue's second commandment manufacturers should follow to please customers:

"II. Thou shalt hire native English speakers to translate thine instruction manual. "When the camera focus is not so possible, hold the shutter button vaguely until the beeping tone is heard." Is that really how your company wants to address customers?
Talk about New Math. You'll spend millions of dollars developing some breakthrough gizmo, but won't spring for somebody to rewrite your manual in proper English? I know some high schoolers who'd do the job for $50 and 10 free ring tones."

So native speakers is enough... and just for ring tones!

¡Mirá vos!

Marcela Robaina



[/ As one who has labored in Pogue's field, as well as in translation, I have to wonder what his response to being offered $50 and free ring-tones as payment for a news article would be.]]


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