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Solecisms, neologisms and bywords
Thread poster: Artaxiad
Norwegian to English
+ ...
May 13, 2004

I'm currently taking a translation course at the University of Oslo, Norway (as I'm sure some of you have grasped by now:). In my current translation assignment, there's a list of words that emerged in Norway during WWII. Some of these have acceptable equivalents, some have more questionable equivalents, and some are so culture-specific that there isn't any word in the TL (English) that accurately conveys the same meaning.

This means that I have to leave at least a few of the words in the SL in the translation. My question is, does that warrant letting ALL the words remain "untranslated", and explain their meaning in a footnote or a parenthesis, even those words where viable expressions in the TL exists? Or is it less marked to leave those few words "untranslated", and use equivalents where available?

Which is better:
Orging (organized foraging), occupation, evacuation, etc


Orging (organized foraging), okkupasjon (occupation), evakuering (evacuation), etc.

This isn't the exact text, by the way, just an example to better illustrate my problem.


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:39
Member (2003)
German to English
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Less is more May 13, 2004

My vote is for 'orging'-only series. Foreign words are intrusive in both good and bad ways, so I would not want to distract the reader with too many - just the strangest, most memorable one as a gift from the Norwegian.

It would be natural for 'occupation' and 'evacuation' in Norwegian, even with their common Latin roots, have different nuances than the English words, nuances that are important to you as a member of the culture, and as a translator, but are distractions for the reader if left in the SL. You have to let some of them go.

Dedecius, the Polish poet, in his book on translation (Vom Übersetzen) describes the relationship between the ST and TT as that of a square and a circle superimposed. Some corners of the source text don't fit into the circle of the target and have to be lopped off, some parts of the translation curve beyond the straight boundaries set by the square source text.

Despite the maxim in the subject line, I'm not a stickler for rules, but when I review my work I try to give myself some structure by identifying 4 "corners" and 4 "crescents," i.e., eight places where I've compromised, to see if I can't iron them out.

[Edited at 2004-05-13 20:48]

[Edited at 2004-05-13 20:49]

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Oleg Sollogub  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
Member (2004)
English to Russian
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The less untranslated, the better May 14, 2004

This is better, of course:
Orging (organized foraging), occupation, evacuation, etc.

You can't leave ALL the source text untranslated and explain the meaning of every word in a footnote/parenthesis))
Your task is to translate the text into the TL, and you use footnotes only if you cannot provide adequate translation.

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Norwegian to English
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Is it that simple? May 17, 2004

Oleg Sollogub wrote:

The less untranslated, the better

You can\'t leave ALL the source text untranslated and explain the meaning of every word in a footnote/parenthesis))

Is it really that clear-cut? Of course I can\'t leave ALL the source text untranslated, but this is one particular and peculiar sentence. It lists words that were new in Norwegian during WWII. These words might have existed for a long time in the TL, and so it would seem odd if the translation \"claims\" that they were new during WWII.

I agree that normally, one should proceed as you suggest, but surely this is a special case, where the sentence is about new words in a particular language?

Is it an option to write: \"The norwegian equivalents to the following words were new...etc\"?

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workfluently  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:39
Spanish to English
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keep originals, then translate in parentheses Jul 9, 2004

"this is one particular and peculiar sentence. It lists words that were new in Norwegian during WWII."

--Based on this last comment you made, I would list all of the words introduced around WWII in the original Norwegian, since the context appears to be a discussion of linguistics and the reader, naturally, will want to see the appearance of the original words. You as translator will then clarify each word's meaning in parentheses, as it is not necessarily transparent to all readers. My suggestion. All the best.

[Edited at 2004-07-09 19:58]

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