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Voting just for "quality of writing" is totally unacceptable
Thread poster: Roland Nienerza

Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:40
English to German
+ ...
Dec 9, 2008

On the Homepage, in mail notifications and now also in the Contest Forum I see the following invitation by the contest organizers -

"That said, if you prefer not to vote in a pair in which you have participated, please consider evaluating -- and rating -- the "quality of writing" in entries that are written in your native language(s) (regardless of source)."

Now, to invite for "evaluating -- and rating -- the "quality of writing" (regardless of source)" is an absolutely dumbfounding idea and totally unacceptable in a Translation Contest.

That would be the way of voting in a literary contest.

But the aim of a Translation Contest is not to produce "nice reading" in a free-wheeling manner and at almost any cost.

Unfortunately quite a lot of submissions I saw - in different combinations, within and without my working languages, exemplify this more or less free-wheeling manner to produce "nice reading" at almost any cost. I saw, in a winning piece in En-De, a question mark in target where the source had none. That rhetoric question mark made for good reading, but it was a cheat on the source text, and thus a cheat to the reader. I saw in En-De "Mount Olympus" - with a grammar mistake - popping up where the source text had just "heaven". And the piece made it for second winner. I saw a winning piece in Es-De, in which the renowned German goal-keeper Oliver Kahn found his way into target, although there was not the slightest trace of him to be detected anywhere in source. It could even be that the author of source had not even heard of him. - And, I repeat, that piece *won a Contest* in that pair. - Which is a rather deplorable indication of the standards or better the lack of standards applied by certain voters.

In a Translation Contest, the "quality of writing" has to be *subservient* to the precision of the translation. - It has to be absolutely clear, that a bad quality of a source text should, at least to some extent, show through into the target. Otherwise, it would no more be a translation, but a "source text embellishing undertaking".

Contrary to the invitation quoted above, I would plead that it should be a rule that no voting on "quality of writing" may be permitted, if there was not a parallel voting for "accuracy of translation".

It cannot be, that someone who has hardly an inkling, if any, of Hungarian, Vietnamese or Swahili, looks at translations from those languages into English and - LOL - votes on the "quality of writing" for these in a Translation Contest. -

It could be brilliant English writing, yes - but an absolutely bungled translation.




[Edited at 2008-12-09 11:52 GMT]

[Edited at 2008-12-09 11:53 GMT]


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milinad  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2006)
German to English
translation should get precedence Dec 9, 2008

I fully agree with Roland.
No doubt the quality of target language text is important (one should be able to read it as if it was originally written in target language) but this should be secondary to How true the target language text is to the original text.

Hence the translation should not be judged by the target language text quality.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 13:40
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Misunderstanding? Dec 9, 2008

I twice tried to rate entries where the source was Chinese or French and the target entries were German, but I was not allowed to vote because my working languages do not include French or Chinese.
So what is it all about?
Heinrich


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 06:40
Read the rules carefully Dec 9, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I twice tried to rate entries where the source was Chinese or French and the target entries were German, but I was not allowed to vote because my working languages do not include French or Chinese.
So what is it all about?
Heinrich


Only in the qualification round one can judge the quality of writing.

The pairs in the final round is only open for those working in this pair, and whose mother tongue is the target language to vote. Unfortunately you are excluded from outing your opinions for Fr-Ge and Ch-Ge.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 06:40
A literary work should be first and foremost appealing to the target audience Dec 9, 2008

whether it is translated or written in the language for the target audience. When purchasing a book, I don't compromise on the writing style just because the source is a foreign language. Indeed I don't even consider it as a factor. The target audience only buy books which are appaeling to them.

Can you educate the readers to take into consideration, that the book is translated?


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 06:40
Depends on the nature of the text Dec 9, 2008

milinad wrote:

I fully agree with Roland.
No doubt the quality of target language text is important (one should be able to read it as if it was originally written in target language) but this should be secondary to How true the target language text is to the original text.

Hence the translation should not be judged by the target language text quality.


I tend to agree with you for scientific and engineering papers.

I doubt very much, if there would be enough participants if the source were of this nature, and how to choose a winner among the entries which are basically the same?


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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
German to English
I think.... Dec 9, 2008

milinad wrote:
Hence the translation should not be judged by the target language text quality.


....translations *should* be judged by the quality of the target language text. After all, a translation is going to be read by people who only know the target language, with no knowledge of the source language at all, and it therefore has to be readable and make sense to them in the target language. And translators should always be good writers of their target language(s).

So, I think it's quite reasonable to say that native speakers of a target language can judge the quality of writing of a translation without their having any knowledge of the source language.


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Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:40
German to Portuguese
+ ...
It is a translation... Dec 9, 2008

It is a translation contest, so source and target text must be taken in consideration.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:40
SITE FOUNDER
But it is one element of a good translation, isn't it? Dec 9, 2008

Roland Nienerza wrote:
In a Translation Contest, the "quality of writing" has to be *subservient* to the precision of the translation.

I agree. As Bin pointed out, this mechanism is for the qualification round only. Finals work differently.

Roland, I guess your position is not that quality of writing should not be considered at all. Is it? Surely "quality of writing" would be one element of a good translation.

I do take your point about "bad quality" being carried through, though. It is an interesting point.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:40
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Bad quality should be carried through? Not my view Dec 9, 2008

Roland Nienerza wrote:

It has to be absolutely clear, that a bad quality of a source text should, at least to some extent, show through into the target. Otherwise, it would no more be a translation, but a "source text embellishing undertaking".


If the source text is unclear/ambiguous, it is part of my professional duty to point it out to the author/outsourcer, and make sure that I can take an informed decision as to which interpretation is correct - so that I don't have to let my readers guess.
Authors have to take care of a lot of things: choice of material, structuring the information, explaining the contents in a clear way, using a proper language. As a translator, I must understand the text fully (and if I don't, I , unlike the readers, have the time to check it with colleagues / with the author), decompose it and recompose it in my target language. Why should I choose solutions that I know are second-best - just because the author, who had a lot of other tasks, could not express himself/herself the best way? I can sometimes add something to the text - in style, in clarity, etc.
To imagine that the author made the best choice with every word is just too naive. I translate scientific and technical texts often, and I can see that the source text would have badly needed an editor. I want to have the possibility to improve it - to make it more fit for purpose - if there is any way. And where there is a will, there is a way. It is not difficult to communicate with the author/outsourcer if the question is about the content. If it is about style in my target language - which the author does not necessarily speak - then I want to have the liberty of writing sentences that read well - if that makes the text more "fit for purpose".
When we speak about out profession, "lost in translation" comes up very frequently. Apart from truly well written gems of literature, if a translation is not at least as good as the original, then it is not good enough.
It is a common practice in the publishing industry that an editor reads the translation without consulting the source text to correct the style and the text flow. Quality of writing should be judged in the contest.
Attila

-------------------------

Typo in subject line edited (from "Bad quality should be carrier through? Not my view" to "Bad quality should be carried through? Not my view")

[Edited at 2008-12-09 13:03 GMT]


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Cagdas Karatas  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 13:40
English to Turkish
Enchantment rules! Dec 9, 2008

Roland Nienerza wrote:

In a Translation Contest, the "quality of writing" has to be *subservient* to the precision of the translation. - It has to be absolutely clear, that a bad quality of a source text should, at least to some extent, show through into the target. Otherwise, it would no more be a translation, but a "source text embellishing undertaking".



Thumbs up for Roland! I agree with every single word of him in this post; however, the above quote is the most striking of all.

The act of translation is not to be mixed with hoodwinkery or sorcery. A translator is *obliged to* convey EVEN a failure on the side of the author to the target audience. One should question, "Are we saviors of poor pieces of writing or incompetent authors? Is literary translation feature writing?", or, "Are we entitled to distort a successful piece of writing by a skilful author just because we lack the knowledge or capability of translating in the right way?"

There is a desparate need for organizing a committee of translation authorities (I would certainly go for academicians) to judge about the quality of texts in ProZ contests. The staff should do something to stop "the sorcerers" and "those entranced by them."


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RominaZ  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Rating quality of writing into your native language only if the pairs are in qualification Dec 9, 2008

Hi Heinrich,

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I twice tried to rate entries where the source was Chinese or French and the target entries were German, but I was not allowed to vote because my working languages do not include French or Chinese.
So what is it all about?
Heinrich


As Bin said, translators hat are native speakers of the target language but do not work in the pair are be able to judge "Quality of writing" only in qualifying rounds. Final voting in each pair is open only to those members and/or users who have been registered on the site for at least 1 month who are native in the target language and work in the same language pair they wish to vote. Please see
http://www.proz.com/?sp=contests&sp_mode=faqs#fti_3538

Both Chinese>German, French>German received fewer than 7 entries so qualifying rounds were not necessary in those pairs. Both pairs are in final voting.

However, you can rate the quality of writing of entries in Spanish>German
and in Italian>German


Thanks for your interest.

Romina


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:40
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Agee Dec 9, 2008

Çağdaş Karataş wrote:


There is a desparate need for organizing a committee of translation authorities (I would certainly go for academicians) to judge about the quality of texts in ProZ contests.


This is absolutely true, with or without the "sorcerers."


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Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"quality of writing" is of course a very important element Dec 9, 2008

Henry D wrote:

Roland Nienerza wrote:
In a Translation Contest, the "quality of writing" has to be *subservient* to the precision of the translation.

I agree. As Bin pointed out, this mechanism is for the qualification round only. Finals work differently.

Roland, I guess your position is not that quality of writing should not be considered at all. Is it? Surely "quality of writing" would be one element of a good translation.

I do take your point about "bad quality" being carried through, though. It is an interesting point.


It is in fact the second most important element for judging on a translation - after the element of precision.

If a text is nice writing - which the great majority of the source texts in the contests that I read were - and the translation is precise, not just vaguely or even wildly approximating, but as precise as possible to every minute connotation of the source and above all true to the feel and the touch of the original, it is hard to see why the target then would not be nice reading too.

What is unfortunately not understood by a remarkably great number of colleagues is - that the ultimate beauty of translation is in its precision.

Not plastering and glossing over - but "high precision, high res translation" is the aim. - And rendering the warmth and the colour of a text, if it has them, is part of the precision. - And all that makes for the "art of translation", as opposed to hammering around and beating about the bush.


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Roland Nienerza  Identity Verified

Local time: 12:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
could be easily resolved - Dec 9, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I twice tried to rate entries where the source was Chinese or French and the target entries were German, but I was not allowed to vote because my working languages do not include French or Chinese.
So what is it all about?
Heinrich


Hello Heinrich,

it is possible and expressly permitted that, for the purpose of voting in pairs with languages other than your working ones you might "temporarily" add these languages to your profile and will then have immediate access to rating and voting.

This can even be done for submitting into non-working pairs, as very many colleagues have of course language capabilities beyond their working pairs.



[Edited at 2008-12-09 14:48 GMT]


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