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Translator's note - what's the convention?
Thread poster: ViktoriaG

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:11
English to French
+ ...
Mar 2, 2009

I am working on the translation of an environmental assessment, from English to French. I have come across a paragraph where a regulation is quoted. However, since this is a provincial regulation of English only Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no official French translation for it. Now, I think the best solution is to translate the quote to the best of my knowledge. However, I want to make sure that the reader understands that this is my own translation and that they should refer to the original English text of the regulation. I think a translator's note is in order. The only problem is that I have never added a translator's note before (it feels strange that I never felt the need).

Can you please explain what the convention is for translator's notes? I know that square brackets are usually used, but I also wonder if there is a standard wording for such notes. Also, even though I have a pretty clear idea of it, does somebody happen to know what the purpose of a translator's note is and when exactly its use is justified? Bonus points if you can tell me how all this is done in French.

Thanks in advance!


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
One approach Mar 2, 2009

I usually create a footnote with a custom note mark (* for the first translator's note, ** for the second, etc.)

I start the note with "Translator's Note:" in boldface, then switch to standard Roman type for the content.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:11
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Footnote problem Mar 3, 2009

Hmmmm... The idea is good, and I know that some translators do work this way. But the problem is that the document I am working with has complex formatting, and there are logos and whatnot in the footer section of the page. Also, having translated about half a million words of this type of document, it seems to me that there are never any footnotes, and it may be that footnotes are forbidden in the style guide - I would need to check with the client.

I am a bit reluctant to create a footnote. I was thinking of square brackets right after the translated regulation, within the text. I know that this method is also being used. In fact, if I remember correctly, the convention for notes in general would be that, if there is only one note on the page, it can be inserted within the text, and it is only when there are several that the footer is used.

Any insight?


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 21:11
French to English
+ ...
Standard practice: Mar 3, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I am working on the translation of an environmental assessment, from English to French. I have come across a paragraph where a regulation is quoted. However, since this is a provincial regulation of English only Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no official French translation for it. Now, I think the best solution is to translate the quote to the best of my knowledge. However, I want to make sure that the reader understands that this is my own translation and that they should refer to the original English text of the regulation. I think a translator's note is in order. The only problem is that I have never added a translator's note before (it feels strange that I never felt the need).

Can you please explain what the convention is for translator's notes? I know that square brackets are usually used, but I also wonder if there is a standard wording for such notes. Also, even though I have a pretty clear idea of it, does somebody happen to know what the purpose of a translator's note is and when exactly its use is justified? Bonus points if you can tell me how all this is done in French.

Thanks in advance!


Canadian convention: Open quote, followed by square bracket and Translation:
"[Translation] your translation...."
Do not use a translator's note.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:11
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Paula's method Mar 3, 2009

Paula, is this what is being used in the House of Commons transcripts (Edited Hansard)? It looks a lot like it... I was hesitant to apply it because it may also just be the House of Commons convention, not a widely accepted one.

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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 21:11
French to English
+ ...
It's standard Mar 3, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

Paula, is this what is being used in the House of Commons transcripts (Edited Hansard)? It looks a lot like it... I was hesitant to apply it because it may also just be the House of Commons convention, not a widely accepted one.


Viktoria, I believe if you use the format I suggested you'll be safe. It's used quite consistently for federal docs.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:11
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to both of you Mar 4, 2009

Thanks for your help. I used what Paula recommended - it is simple, easy to understand and doesn't involve fooling around with the formatting. Not that I am uncomfortable modifying the formatting, but the client may be unhappy with it, so I'd rather play safe.

Thanks again!


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:11
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Translator's Notes Style Mar 6, 2009

Traditionally, my personal practice is to insert translator's notes within the text, ideally a different colour for emphasis. Like this fictitious example: [T.N. - This could be a typo, please check with the client]

However, one translation agency I work with has told me not to insert translator's notes at all, but to include them as a separate file, with references to page, etc. in the translator's notes text. This could work but may be cumbersome if there are many notes.

Example (fictitious):

[page 5] This word does not seem to fit the context.

[page 7, 1st line] The name of the city has been corrected, as it is wrongly written in the original.

[page 7, 5th line] Should I translate this acronym?

I hope this helps, but the best plan is to check with your client.


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krizck
Mexico
Local time: 18:11
English to Spanish
Insert the note Mar 6, 2009

If you are having so much trouble with a footnote because of the format, the only way is to insert the note. You may simply specify the nature of the paragraph and why it cannot be translated. Just make sure the reader understands what is really going on.

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:11
Seperate document Mar 7, 2009

I'm afraid I don't know the Canadian convention, but standard practice for EU documentation is to enclose the notes in a seperate document and cite where they're located in the text.

They don't want to spend too much time removing notes and inserted comments from the translation as it could have an impact on the publication cycle.

[Edited at 2009-03-07 10:05 GMT]


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 21:11
French to English
+ ...
Just a further note Mar 7, 2009

Hi Viktoria, I was reading this thread again and all the excellent ideas, and upon rereading your original post, I wonder if you really need to insert a translation at all. I'm sure I've seen environmental assessments (in French) that cite English-language legislation without providing a translation (and I'm sure that's the case for reasons for decisions I've come across, written in / translated to French). Maybe check out the CEAA site and see what they do. Another source might be the NEB (interprovincial stuff). Just a thought!
Have a good weekend.


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Alexandre Coutu
Canada
Local time: 19:11
English to French
Inserting [Traduction] is an appropriate method Mar 25, 2009

Seems like some people are commenting on how to inform a client of a comment you might have about the text...

I understand your situation -- you want the reader to read that part with caution as it is NOT the official legal text, and there is no official translation for it.

I agree that inserting [Traduction] is an appropriate method in this case.


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