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Poll: When I come across one of those "untranslatable" words, I
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:36
SITE STAFF
Jan 25, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When I come across one of those "untranslatable" words, I".

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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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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends on the context Jan 25, 2008

There's no one answer to this. You'd use one approach in translating a court deposition and a completely different approach in subtitling a joke in a TV sitcom.

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Fiamma Lolli
Italy
Local time: 22:36
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
it depends on the word... Jan 25, 2008

What does "untranslatable" mean?
Weltanschauung found in a Spanish text to be translated into Italian?
A Sicilian term in an Italian text to be translated into English?
A Sicilian term in an English text to be translated into Italian?
A word that cannot be found in any dictionary (but it exists)?
A neologism of the author?
A quechua word in a Spanish text to be translated into...quechua?
And so on...


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:36
English to Arabic
+ ...
Exactly.. Jan 25, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

There's no one answer to this. You'd use one approach in translating a court deposition and a completely different approach in subtitling a joke in a TV sitcom.


"It depends" would be the only accurate answer I can give to this question.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Quite Jan 25, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

There's no one answer to this. You'd use one approach in translating a court deposition and a completely different approach in subtitling a joke in a TV sitcom.


As you say, Steven. It depends. I'd try Kudoz, as well as inserting a footnote, of course.
Will anyone dare tick the "Omit it" box ???
Regards,
Jenny.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 22:36
English to Norwegian
+ ...
any of the above... Jan 25, 2008

omitting it, in my book, is trying to get around it? Give the meaning as best as I can while leaving out the he&"%¤%# word? SKipping it and leaving a meaningless sentence is of course out of the question for all of us - surely?
Kudoz is also great.
I am very grateful to my more technically minded and - knowledgeable colleagues. They have saved me many times when I run across a technical whatnot that I have never heard of.


However - sometimes I am more concerned about what to do about meaningless sentences in the source text.
I had one of these quite recently - and tearing my hair out, I translated it literally, and made a note of it when handing in the translation. I was very happy to receive an editor's comment something like this:
"I would like to modestly express my support for the translator's remark about xxx"


[Edited at 2008-01-25 18:14]


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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 22:36
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
It depends Jan 25, 2008

I ticked the "footnote" but it actually depends on the case. The Kudoz Glossary would hewever be my last resort.

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Danae Ferri  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 22:36
Norwegian to Greek
+ ...
Completely agree Jan 25, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

There's no one answer to this. You'd use one approach in translating a court deposition and a completely different approach in subtitling a joke in a TV sitcom.


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Sandro C  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:36
English to Georgian
+ ...
combination of all Jan 25, 2008

I guess I am doing all of those together - usually I try to put the 'best' translation I have at that moment and put the equivalent source word, plus highlight both. I do that to come back from time to time in between - sometimes it helps .. if not - I'm trying to ask professionals from that particular filed (economists, lawyers, etc) if this is a specific terminology, or peer translators. I’m trying to exhaust all the possible resources not to leave it kind of incomplete, but when I can’t help it, I do make a note when submitting the work back.

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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 18:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
No problem - if you focus on the sense of the sentence. Jan 26, 2008

An individual word may be 'untranslatable' for any one of a dozen reasons, some of which have already been mentioned here.

But words are mere components of sentences. And as translators, our task is surely to make sense of (and then to translate) sentences, not mere words!

It doesn't matter how untranslatable an individual word may be; there's always a way to translate the sentence in a manner appropriate to the context, the client and all the other factors governing acceptability. That's where our knowledge, skills and experience come into play...

MediaMatrix


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amky
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 00:36
English to Arabic
+ ...
agree Jan 26, 2008

Sandro C wrote:

I guess I am doing all of those together - usually I try to put the 'best' translation I have at that moment and put the equivalent source word, plus highlight both. I do that to come back from time to time in between - sometimes it helps .. if not - I'm trying to ask professionals from that particular filed (economists, lawyers, etc) if this is a specific terminology, or peer translators. I’m trying to exhaust all the possible resources not to leave it kind of incomplete, but when I can’t help it, I do make a note when submitting the work back.



I think this the best way to make sure I'm doing my best in giving the right meaning.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
Italian to English
+ ...
give the best equivalent Jan 26, 2008

although as Steven, Fiamma and others say, the only possible answer is really "it depends" - not only on the context, but the word itself.

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Mohsin Alabdali  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 00:36
English to Arabic
+ ...
Omitting is Unprofessional Jan 26, 2008

To my mind, it is unfrofessional to omit a word in the source simply because I cannot translate it. I'd leave it as is followed in brackets by a brief explanation of my understanding). It is unthingkable for a professional translator to omit a word. Such ommission in a legal document could lead to unfortunate results.

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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 22:36
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Exactly Jan 26, 2008

Mohsin Alabdali wrote:

To my mind, it is unfrofessional to omit a word in the source simply because I cannot translate it. I'd leave it as is followed in brackets by a brief explanation of my understanding). It is unthingkable for a professional translator to omit a word. Such ommission in a legal document could lead to unfortunate results.


That never should have been included as an 'option'. It IS done, (I've seen entire (difficult) sentences left out) but a true professional would never even consider it.


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