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failed to: Spanish translation and rules
Thread poster: violetaunap

violetaunap
Local time: 17:04
English to Spanish
May 6, 2007

I am an EFL instructor teaching English to translation students. In one of the readings we have to discuss I came across this phrase "...not because it is a murder, but becauses the "good people" failed to call the police."
I am sure the students will ask me how to translate this and my best guess is "no porque es un homicidio, sino debido a que "los buenos" no llamaron a la policia."
I think failed and people should be omitted, but I don't know why...
Do you know any website where I can find theoretical information about translating from English to Spanish? What are the rules?

I appreciate your help.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
good people May 6, 2007

I don't think "good people" here literally means "gente buena", "good" here has a sarcastic ring to i.e. "those b....people"..i.e. "those involved"....I find it difficult to explain this properly.

"la maldita gente" or just "nadie de loswould suffice, ...

I don't feel very inspired at the moment.


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Danae Ferri  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 23:04
Norwegian to Greek
+ ...
libro May 6, 2007

Yo te recomendaría un libro sobre la traducción en general, que a mí me gusta pues es muy práctico -a lo mejor ya lo conoces. Es el "manual de traducción" de Peter Newmark (editorial Cátedra). Su título original es "A Textbook of Translation".

[Edited at 2007-05-06 19:07]

[Edited at 2007-05-06 19:08]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
English to Arabic
+ ...
Can't help with the Spanish, but... May 6, 2007

Sorry I can't help with your main question, but I can't tell you how many times I've come across Arabic translations of "failed to" where the expression was translated literally. Obviously it then sounds as if the people TRIED to call the police, but for some reason failed. Sometimes the result sounds really ridiculous, as e.g here: "The report fails to mention that..." or "The patient failed to attend".

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Salam Alrawi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:04
English to Arabic
+ ...
A try and option May 6, 2007

I am sorry I don't know about spanish and because of that may be I don't really understand the issure here, but I just want to say that : you can look to the word that relate to (failed to) and get a translation, for example :

Failed to : mean they tried but they couldn't, because there was no phone, or someone threatened them not to, or someone cut the line, or... or....etc. ,
so here you can say : (because the people couldn't call the police) at the right time, or there were no phones ...etc.

Hope this can help,
Best regards,
Salam


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Suggestion May 6, 2007

violetaunap wrote:

I think failed and people should be omitted, but I don't know why...
Do you know any website where I can find theoretical information about translating from English to Spanish? What are the rules?



In this case, the problem is translating "fail to"

fail to do something; leave something undone; "She failed to notice that her child was no longer in his crib"; "The secretary failed to call the customer and the company lost the account"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

So actually, you are not translating word by word, you are translating a unit of meaning.

fail = reprobar
fail to = no hacer algo

So it is not really that you are not translating the word "fail", but rather that you say this differently in English than in Spanish.

For teaching this concept:
1. go directly to the definition of the word or expression in a monolingual dictionary, and translate from there. Show the different meanings the same word can have.

2. You can also find an opposite example going from Spanish to English to illustrate this. An idiomatic expression that translated literally into English would make no sense.
example (not sure how good it is....)
"No te metas en ese asunto"
would not be "don't go into that" but rather "don't get involved in that"



As for rules for translating (in any language), it would be great to have them spelled out somewhere!!!

The basic rule is: you are not translating words, you are translating the meaning.

As you are teaching the language and you recognized this problem, it is clear that you are aware at some level that you cannot translate word by word. You just have to feel confident about your instinct and know that it is the right one!!

hope this helps?


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Post in Spanish Forum May 6, 2007

I think it would be a good idea to post your question in the Spanish forum, you will probably get more specific responses there...

Saludos


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
They failed at a deeper level May 6, 2007

Salam, there is a subtle meaning to "failed to" here; as Liz points out, "good people" is used in an ironic sense here. These people were really not so good because the failure was in their duty to call the police. It is not that they tried and were prevented, but rather that they did not carry out their civic duty. Had they tried, or wanted to and not succeeded, the sentence surely would have said something like "they were unable to call the police."

Violet, I doubt that any general information on translation will help you here; rather a specific discussion on your sentence. I think your interpretation is good, and I like your translation; perhaps "good people" could be rendered by "ciudadanos" to convey a stronger implication of the aspect of civic duty that I mentioned in my previous paragraph.


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:04
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Moved it to Spanish forum May 7, 2007

Due to several requests, I have moved this thread to the Spanish Forum.

Monika


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 19:04
SITE STAFF
... la gente decente no llamó a la policía May 7, 2007

violetaunap wrote:

I am an EFL instructor teaching English to translation students. In one of the readings we have to discuss I came across this phrase "...not because it is a murder, but becauses the "good people" failed to call the police."
I am sure the students will ask me how to translate this and my best guess is "no porque es un homicidio, sino debido a que "los buenos" no llamaron a la policia."
I think failed and people should be omitted, but I don't know why...



"... sino porque la gente decente no llamó a la policía"

Me parece que "gente decente" (como diferente de "virtuosa") sería una buena traducción en este caso. Creo que se alude a gente que cumple las leyes pero que no actúa para defender activamente su cumplimiento.

Divagues de domingo por la noche

Enrique


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violetaunap
Local time: 17:04
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
good people (sarcastic) May 7, 2007

liz askew wrote:

I don't think "good people" here literally means "gente buena", "good" here has a sarcastic ring to i.e. "those b....people"..i.e. "those involved"....I find it difficult to explain this properly.

"la maldita gente" or just "nadie de loswould suffice, ...

I don't feel very inspired at the moment.



I understand there is a sarcastic tone there, but shouldn't that be left for the reader to understand?


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violetaunap
Local time: 17:04
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
understood May 7, 2007

OK. Thank you all of you.
I will pass your suggestions to my students and let them decide. It's been really informative and I'm really happy I posted this message.

We have a blog in our course, so if any of you have time and would want to share his/her experiences as professional translator with my students, I will be really grateful.
Pm me if you're interested.

Bye, and thank you again.

I'm going to the library to borrow Newmark's book.


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Deschant
Local time: 22:04
Respuesta May 7, 2007

Uno de los primeros libros sobre traducción que leí fue el "Manual de traducción" de Valentín García Yebra, que se basa en la traducción al español desde el inglés, francés, alemán, italiano y portugués, y contiene varios ejemplos de este tipo; es decir, cómo los verbos, nombres, preposiciones, adverbios, etc. de un idioma no se pueden siempre traducir por sus equivalentes gramaticales en otra. El libro sistematiza y explica bastante bien esta clase de situaciones.

[Editado a las 2007-05-07 08:55]


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ulla2608  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:04
German to Spanish
+ ...
gente de bien May 7, 2007

High, Violeta,
I think your translation is O.K. There is another expression often used in Spain: la "gente de bien". It is used specially in case you want to distinguish between "the bad people" and "the good ones".
Regards
Ulla


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
failed May 7, 2007

"failed" just means "did not"


Failed to attend/Did not attend


are the same.


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