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Translating/Interpreting for non-native speaker target audience.
Thread poster: RafaLee
Local time: 19:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 3, 2004

Dear all,

Have you ever translated/interpreted into English and it is not the target audience's first language?

If you have done so, what problems did you face?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:52
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not English Apr 4, 2004

but this must be pretty common in broad-diffusion languages. I remember a conference in which we had an embassy-certified Egyptian interpreter, but received complaints all the same from Moroccans and Iraqis. THEN we found out there were three or four large variants of Arabic to consider, all of them native.

It's just another angle. I'd like to find out about other experiences.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Worse Apr 5, 2004

Sometimes it´s a lot worse to have to interpret for a speaker who is trying to speak in a language that is not his/her native language.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:52
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Practically everyone who translates into English has to bear it in mind Apr 5, 2004

I don't interpret, but I translate a wide range of texts for agency clients.

Business or tourist texts are very often for 'mixed' target groups who use English as a 'lingua franca', and anyone translating into English has to consider the target group an extra time.

For instance, I wrote 'common denominator' above, then edited it to 'lingua franca'. Should I have used 'common language'?

The important things to watch out for are idioms and metaphors, especially 'dead' metaphors which we no longer see as metaphors! They may be understood in a completely different sense from the one you intended, or totally misunderstood.

Then terminology - use correct terminology (even if it is a dead metaphor like 'mouse'). If necessary, ask the client to check for you what they prefer. Very often target groups know what a spade is (or other technical terms, because it's their job) but if you try to simplify, you will either be talking down to them or you will confuse them. (What is this digging implement ?? Why has the spade been replaced? )

Try to avoid a very dead-sounding 'Basic English' by varying sentence structures, arranging and linking them logically, but not using complicated vocabulary. In other words write clearly and concisely without insulting people's intelligence.

Hey, this is a reply in a forum, not a major work on translation theory!!!

'Think with the accent the target group speaks with' sums it up.

PS: The accent is in fact literally important if you are translating a speech or lecture to be held by a non-native speaker at an international conference - 'play your text over' by ear when you've finished translating!

If you've got time, this will show what I mean ...
[Edited at 2004-04-05 07:20]

[Edited at 2004-04-05 11:16]

[Edited at 2004-04-06 10:26]

[Edited at 2004-04-06 10:27]

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