Quotes and footnotes
Thread poster: Clare Barnes

Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:52
Swedish to English
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Dec 2, 2004

I am about to start work on an a text for publication in a Danish academic journal. I will be translating from Swedish to English. Is there a standard procedure for what to do with quotations in the source language?

My inclination is to leave them untranslated in the text body and provide a footnote translation - or should that be vice versa?

All suggestions appreciated, particularly those relevant to Scandinavia!


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xxx00000000
English to French
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Ask the author Dec 2, 2004

Academic journals have their own guidelines for such cases. The author must either know them or should be the one to inquire about them. It's really not for you to decide and nobody on this forum can provide you with a reliable answer.

Best,
Esther


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
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TOPIC STARTER
I have... Dec 2, 2004

...which is really the reason I'm asking. He's rather vague about what would be best (and having seen a bit of what's been published by others in the field they don't appear to have a standard approach).

My gut feeling is that (within Scandinavia) Swedish quotes in the English text and English footnotes will be acceptable, but I would really like to know if there's strong disagreement out there.


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Readers Dec 3, 2004

Most readers, I assume, don't have a working knowledge of Swedish. So, in order not to interrupt their reading unnecessarily, it might be better to translate the quotes and provide the original text in the footnotes for the sake of accuracy.

I also assume the quotes only contain scientific/technical information. If they have any kind of literary relevance, of course you must keep them in the text and provide the translation in the footnotes.

Where we differ, I think, is on the readership. In the academic world, you'll read whatever pertains to the topic you're researching. You assume because the journal is a Danish publication, it will be read by Scandinavians; I, on the other hand, assume anybody interested in the topic would like to have a look at it if it's in English. That's the whole purpose of publishing papers in English after all.

Best,
Esther

[Edited at 2004-12-03 01:36]


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
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thanks... Dec 3, 2004

...actually, I think that's decided me!

Most of the quotes will be probably as understandable to other Scandinavians as to Swedes and they actually tend towards the descriptive rather than the technical.

Thanks for the help.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
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Reliability Dec 3, 2004

Esther Pfeffer wrote:
...nobody on this forum can provide you with a reliable answer.


How in the world can you know this?

Guidelines for style in academic texts, such as the Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide, the Blue Book or Strunk and White for the US, have neither uniform rules nor do they usually cover how to deal with citations in translations.

Apparently, not even the scholar in question is sure...

I have translated numerous academic texts - most of them containing quotes. And in my opinion, some of the most important information is contained in quotes, which is why I can't imagine not translating them along with the rest.

If anything, you may include a translator's note explaining which language the cited person originally used or even including the quote in the original language, though I honestly don't think that it is necessary.

Translator's notes are usually used to denote ambiguities the translator may have discovered or to explain proper titles that were left in the original language because they often can not be translated directly or are used universally.

Whether or not this information is reliable, is of course open to debate...

[Edited at 2004-12-03 08:18]

[Edited at 2004-12-03 08:19]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
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Translate immediately, not in footnote Dec 3, 2004

The MLA (Modern Language Association of America) Handbook's standard is often used when writing academic papers. (But note that it's not the only standard). Their view on translation of qutations is:

"If you believe that a significant portion of your audience will not be familiar with the language of a quotation you present, you should add a translation. If the translation is not yours, give its source in addition to the source of the quotation. In general, the translation should immediately follow the quotation whether they are run into or sey off from the text, although their order may be reversed if most readers will not likely be able to read the original."

I would not translations in the footnote, but directly following the quote as MLA suggests. If it was a very long quote, I might consider an end note.

Keep in mind that even if its a Scandinavian University, you don't know who will read the paper in the future. I would always translate.

Regards,
Madeleine


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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
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Member (2002)
German to English
Some strategies Dec 3, 2004

Derek Gill wrote:

... in my opinion, some of the most important information is contained in quotes, which is why I can't imagine not translating them along with the rest.

If anything, you may include a translator's note explaining which language the cited person originally used or even including the quote in the original language, though I honestly don't think that it is necessary.


I agree, except in the literary type of text mentioned by Esther, it definitely makes more sense to have everything translated in the main body of the text. This is much more convenient for the reader (who may or may not have a reading knowledge of the source language/s).

Since the citations indicate where the original material can be found, personally I would not preserve the original wording even in the footnotes. However, I do tend to add a brief comment to the relevant citation to show that it is no longer in its originally published language - [own tr.]

Also, it's wise to be on the alert for 'rogue quotes' in case the author has already translated a quote from another language without following the sort of convention suggested here, or paraphrased from a text in another language without using quotation marks. The bibliography should give a clue if this has happened.

It is most important to have a strategy for this if the original language of the quote/paraphrase is also the target language of the translation. The author should help by providing the original passages, because direct quotes are obviously better than back-translations. And paraphrases do sometimes turn out to be quotes, once they have been back-translated..

Anyway, I hope these quotes don't make up an undue amount of your text!


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Misunderstanding Dec 3, 2004

Derek Gill wrote:

Esther Pfeffer wrote:
...nobody on this forum can provide you with a reliable answer.


How in the world can you know this?


I never meant to say that there were no competent people in the forums. In my experience, academic journals provide a stylesheet to the prospective authors.

Guidelines for style in academic texts, such as the Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide, the Blue Book or Strunk and White for the US, have neither uniform rules nor do they usually cover how to deal with citations in translations.


So general Manuals of Style don't agree but someone in the forum will come up with the definitive authoritative pronouncement?

Apparently, not even the scholar in question is sure...


Well, we didn't know that when I first answered the post.

I have translated numerous academic texts - most of them containing quotes.
uote]

I have written several myself, and I have been an editor (Cahiers linguistiques d'Ottawa), which reminds me:

Clare, don't sweat it out. Do as you please: if the editors don't like it, they'll change it.

Best,
Esther


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
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It's all good... Dec 3, 2004

Esther Pfeffer wrote:
So general Manuals of Style don't agree but someone in the forum will come up with the definitive authoritative pronouncement?


Tis the nature of the beast, I suppose. I only state my opinion, not some "definitive authoritative pronouncement". My references to the Manuals of Style were meant to illustrate the incoherence in what is viewed as "correct style".

I wrote:
Apparently, not even the scholar in question is sure...


Esther Pfeffer wrote:
Well, we didn't know that when I first answered the post.


You're right of course (all but the first line was directed more towards the asker).

Esther Pfeffer wrote:
Clare, don't sweat it out. Do as you please: if the editors don't like it, they'll change it.


True, true...


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:52
Swedish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everybody Dec 4, 2004

...mmm... I'm just going to start work and go with the flow for a while.

The quotes are a large part of the text (comparative archaeological descriptions from 1685 onwards). The author has now expressed a wish for quotes in the original language in the text and translations as foonotes, so I shall start by doing it that way (I think he's seen that in a similar article). At least all the quotes are in their original languages (Swedish or English)!

Thank you everyone, at least I know now that there are no easy answers to this question!


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