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Poll: Do you think that cat tools could lead you to a more literal translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:41
SITE STAFF
Jul 23, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think that cat tools could lead you to a more literal translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Alicia Casal

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Julio Torres
Mexico
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends on you Jul 23, 2006

CAT tools are only the "translator's memory". If you make literal translations that's exaclty what you are going to obtain in the future.

Additionally, if you check all the TM the CAT tool shows you, no matter they match at 100%, you can decide if it corresponds to the new situation or you must do some changes.

CAT tools help us with memory, but not with creativity.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Literal translation? Jul 23, 2006

I don't understand the part about a "literal translation". A literal translation may or may not be a good translation. So what is really being asked?

Garbage in, garbage out, I suppose.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:11
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Yes, it promotes literal translation Jul 23, 2006

CAT tools force you to concentrate on smaller units of the whole text, such as a sentence, so it becomes difficult to connect up with the context in the other parts of the text. You end up doing a very literal translation even at the level of grammatical structure.

I will give you an example from English to Hindi.

In Hindi the normal sentence structure is Subject + Object + Verb, whereas in English it is Subject + Verb + Object.

Consdier the following sentence.

She (subject) gave (verb) me a book(qualifiers).

In Hindi this would be
उसने (Subject) मुझे एक किताब (qualifiers) दी (verb)।

What this means is that very often in long sentences of this type (such as bulletted sentences), one part of the sentence may be in one translation unit and the other in another, and since they don't match grammatical structure wise, there is just no way you can translate them using a CAT tool, unless you adjust the Hindi translation grammatically to fit the straitjacket imposed by a CAT tool.

Further there are so many others aspects of grammar that are so different in the two languages, that aiming for a sentence to sentence correspondence between the two languages will be foolishness.

This is particularly so if the translation is of literature, where a sentence can have several levels of meaning.

CAT tools are good for routine translations of अभिधात्मक (abhidhatmak) writings, but when you encounter लाक्षणिक (laakshanic) or अभिव्यंजनात्मक (abhivyanjanatmak) writing, they turn out to be a total failure. (I am explaining these terms below.).

I generally use CAT tools for the first type of writing (such as in legal or scientific translations) but generally do not use them for the next two categories. Even if I use CAT tools for these type of documents (especially literature) I go through the cleaned files carefully two or three times to adjust grammar and style distortions.
----

I am afraid I cannot give you the exact English equivalents of the three technical terms I have used above. I am not even sure exact equivalent exists, for these are terms from Sanskrit poetics and I don't think this branch of science has been developed to such an extent as in Sanskrit in any other language.

According to Sanskrit poetics, then, there are three types of writings:

Abhidhatmak - or straightforward writing , where the words convey only and no more than their obvious meaning.

Lakshanik - or characteristic oriented writing, where the words convey a meaning different than their normal meaning.

Abhivyanjanatmak - where the meaning conveyed is in no relation to the normal meaning of the words.

Example.

He is brave. (Straightforward writing)

He is a lion. (characteristic oriented writing, implying braveness)

He killed the lion with his bare hands. (Abhivyanjatmak writing; here, the word brave has not been used at all, but the action of killing a ferocious beast like a lion implies that "he" is a very brave person. In other words, this sentence conveys the same meaning as the first two, even though the word brave has not been used and even though none of the constituent words in the sentence have a meaning "brave").

The first type is insisted upon in scientific writing, but is frowned upon in poetry, where the next two types are more respectable to use, especially the third.

Sanskrit critics always advise poets never to say:

She is beautiful

But to say
Her eyes are like the petals of a lotus
Her teeth are like the seeds of pomegranate
Her hair is like lightning flashes in a monsoon cloud

etc. etc....
----


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:41
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't be fooled! Jul 23, 2006

For years I believed that my style was resistive to the pressure of machine aids to translation (= CAT tools).

I worked full-time for international organizations as a "real" translator and editor for about 16 years. Then my job changed and I postedited machine translation exclusively for about 10 years. When I went free lance 12 years ago, I realized how *bad* my work had become! I have tried to use Trados and feel myself being pulled into the same bland style that reflects the syntax of the source language and captures none of the nuances.

For me, translation is a highly intricate process that goes on inside my brain. I know from extnsive experience in computational linguistics that it defies analysis. The ONLY way I can produce a good translation is to LOOK AWAY from the screen and touch-type. That's when my brain is in full gear and I really do the kind of job that is expected of a professional translator.


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Eva Middleton  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:41
German to English
more literal but blander Jul 23, 2006

I guess your work is what you make it - my personal experience ties in with Muriel's.
I mainly translate contracts, court judgments and statutes, all texts where blandness isn't really a hindrance and I like using a CAT tool for the consistency and because I produce a more literal translation that way (for instance, lots of texts will refer back to 'sentence three of paragraph 345' etc., so it is useful to retain the sentences when possible).
When I do a general text I now prefer to work without a CAT tool (time permitting) - I don't seem to achieve the same free-flowing style otherwise.


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Silvina Matheu  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:41
Member
English to Spanish
It's up to you Jul 23, 2006

I agree with Julio. It depends on the translator.

Balasubramaniam wrote:

CAT tools force you to concentrate on smaller units of the whole text, such as a sentence, so it becomes difficult to connect up with the context in the other parts of the text. You end up doing a very literal translation even at the level of grammatical structure.



You can shrink or join segments according to what you want, and you don't need to stick to the TM. Even when you find 100% matches, you can edit the text.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:41
Italian to English
L. Balsubramaniam, Muriel and Eva have a point Jul 23, 2006

Working with a CAT tool tends to focus your attention on segment-level translation problems and can distract you from equally important higher-level issues, such as the flow of the discourse and whole text-level rhetorical devices. CAT tools also impose a relatively inflexible work flow, which you may or may not find congenial.

That said, I would never translate without a CAT: I have too many repeat clients who come back after long absences and I need to ensure their texts will be consistent ( from vintage to vintage for wineries, to make one obvious example).

To avoid falling into the trap Muriel so graphically describes, I like to read the entire text first, noting down if necessary (my memory is not what it used to be) significant themes, metaphors, linking devices and/or anything else that will provide the backbone of the finished translation's rhetorical structure.

After translation and revision - with or without a colleague's help - in the CAT environment, I print (to two columns if I'm using DVX) the finished text and add the final touches before updating the TM.

I also agree with Muriel that you have to be able to translate the first draft at something approaching speaking speed, either by touch typing or by using a speech recognition program.
Otherwise you risk getting the rhythms of the target text wrong. And if you're not sure, it's a good idea to read your finished work aloud. This generally shows up the passages that clunk!

Cheers,

Giles


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:41
English to French
+ ...
Sometimes you can't join segments Jul 23, 2006

I answered sometimes although it happens very rarely, in particular formats where I can't join segments - generally text boxes or flow charts - and I have to give back uncleaned files or I can't edit the source file before to remove hard returns (Trados doesn't let you join segments in that case). I sometimes choose a more literal translation if I find one that fits in the format + TM. But if there is no solution that way, I generally leave the corresponding segments untranslated and give back a list to the client who can edit the final file. I find it better than filling a TM with junk TUs.

Apart from these particular cases, I very often join segments or split sentences if I need to and I don't let the original structure influence my work - I agree with Giles, reading the text aloud is a good way to check its fluency.


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claudia bagnardi  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
I must say... Jul 23, 2006

I always read all the text to be translated before setting hands on it.

But I realized that when I started using TRADOS I lost sight of the whole picture.

So now I always make the final revision without TRADOS. Reading the translated text with fluency. I make the necessary adjustments, and then pass TRADOS again to fix changes.

Of course it always depends on deadlines...

Claudia


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:41
German to English
+ ...
A fuzzy way of looking at consistency Jul 24, 2006

Eva Middleton wrote:
I mainly translate contracts, court judgments and statutes, all texts where blandness isn't really a hindrance and I like using a CAT tool for the consistency and because I produce a more literal translation that way (for instance, lots of texts will refer back to 'sentence three of paragraph 345' etc., so it is useful to retain the sentences when possible).


I prefer to hammer everything through my CAT tool, be it a technical manual, a marketing presentation or a magazine article.

A basic reason for this is the fact that am I simply more at ease with the interface: two languages side by side, relatively little danger of overlooking anything and the impossibility of indavertently overwiting.

I agree with Eva, particularly from the consistency aspect, but there can also be an odd twist to this.

In technical documents, consistency/repetition is as vital as its avoidance in more creative writing. In this respect, when wearing my 'creative hat', I will often note a word/phrase that rings familiar and check back (F7) to make sure that I am not repeating myself.. Thus if a 'dog' is later referred to as a 'cur' in the source language, then that should, whererever possible, be reflected in the target. This is where the fuzzy match can win over on the 100% match. I might also prefer to avoid a 100% repetition if I decide that my choice affects the fluency.

When that's all done and dusted, a paper review - read aloud as suggested by Giles - will always add the final polish.

The TM issue is arguably not fully pertinent to the question, but suffice it to say that last week was very pleasant, thanks to an unexpectedly benevolent TM and despite temperatures that were hardly conducive to sustained concentration.

Cheers,
Chris


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 22:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Purpose Of CAT Tools Is Efficiency Jul 24, 2006

I agree with those who say that, once this basic concept is reiterated, the result is entirely up to the discipline of the individual translator.

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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:41
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on the translator Jul 24, 2006

I think a CAT really could boost bad translations when the translator limits it's focus to one segment.
On the other hand when you use the freedom a CAT tool gives you (at least Trados does), I think it eases the translation process because you never "loose" the source text, neither when a phone call interrupts your work, nor during proofreading. Source and target always keep next to each other, so proofreading immediately highlights translations that would be either too literal or not according to the source text.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:41
German to English
+ ...
Preferred method Jul 24, 2006

Henk Peelen wrote:

Source and target always keep next to each other, so proofreading immediately highlights translations that would be either too literal or not according to the source text.


What I like to do is have the file I am working with displayed on a right hand monitor in tilt position (SDLX files are 'vertical'). The source file is displayed on a left hand monitor. That way you can readily see the source text to get context, the 'bigger picture' or whatever.

It is indeed crucial working in PPT and HTML, where you might need to see which segments are headlines and which not. What needs to be capitalised etc.

A Problem with Work from German, where Nouns are in Capitals.

Cheers
Chris


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