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Back translation of quoted sources - how to deal with it?
Thread poster: Angela Arnone

Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 30, 2005

I imagine that this has been dealt with before but I can't find a trace for it.
I've been given a text in Italian that quotes several English texts in translation.
I'm not able to locate these texts in the original form so what do I do now?
My only idea is to back translate them but as "reported speech", making it clear I am quoting the sense and not the original English.
Any other ideas?
Cheers
Angela


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:27
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
It depends Jul 30, 2005

Hi Angela, it depends on the nature of these quotes. If these are the quotes of some writers, scientists etc. then the idea of back translating them as "reported speech" is not a good one; it would be much better to find the originals. Many times I observed that kind of questions in KudoZ. In most cases such questions were answered.

In any case it would be good to discuss the problem with your customer.





[Edited at 2005-07-30 19:59]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Literary works Jul 30, 2005

Hi Natalia,
I don't do scientific translation and I think that if I did it wouldn't be such a problem to trace origianl articles on the web.
One example in this text is a quote from a 1905 art criticism by the American novelist Edith Wharton.
Now even if I could find this text (how?), I'd have to read it all the way through to find the relevant quote. Bit of a tall order for 5 lines of quotation in a 19-page translation to be handed in next week!
I'll contact the customer, of course, and get their angle on it.
Angela


Natalie wrote:
Hi Angela, it depends on the nature of these quotes. If these are the quotes of some writers, scientists etc. then the idea of back translating them as "reported speech" is not a good one; it would be much better to find the originals. Many times I observed that kind of questions in KudoZ. In most cases such questions were answered.

In any case it would be good to discuss the problem with your customer.





[Edited at 2005-07-30 19:59]


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:27
Member (2002)
Russian to English
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Edith Wharton Jul 31, 2005

Angela,
I have a thick biography of Edith Wharton that has extensive quotes from her works, including art criticism. If you want to drop me a line, I'll flip through it and see if I can find anything.

You're right - it is hard to track down those quotes. But if no one at Kudoz can help, you might try the library. You certainly won't find the texts on the internet. Not in English, at least.

Elizabeth Adams
ehadams@hotmaill.com


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:27
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
Hi again Jul 31, 2005

Angela, here is a site with biography of Edith Wharton and a searchable collection of her works:
http://www.online-literature.com/wharton/

Some quotations:
http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Edith_Wharton

Stories:
http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/People/spok/metabook/tmghosts.htm

Large collection of e-texts by E/ Wharton in Virgivia University:
http://tinyurl.com/bd37x

The Edith Wharton Society:
http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/index.html

Here you may find full bibliography:
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/authors/Edith_Wharton.htm
In 1905, E.Wharton wrote 2 books: The House of Mirth and Italian Backgrounds. In case your quotation is about art, it is most likely from the Italian Backgrounds. There was another book, Italian Villas and their Gardens, but it was published in 1904.



[Edited at 2005-07-31 14:57]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
"as Edith Wharton pointed out" Jul 31, 2005

Angela Arnone wrote:

Hi Natalia,
I don't do scientific translation and I think that if I did it wouldn't be such a problem to trace origianl articles on the web.
One example in this text is a quote from a 1905 art criticism by the American novelist Edith Wharton.
Now even if I could find this text (how?), I'd have to read it all the way through to find the relevant quote. Bit of a tall order for 5 lines of quotation in a 19-page translation to be handed in next week!
I'll contact the customer, of course, and get their angle on it.
Angela


Natalie wrote:
Hi Angela, it depends on the nature of these quotes. If these are the quotes of some writers, scientists etc. then the idea of back translating them as "reported speech" is not a good one; it would be much better to find the originals. Many times I observed that kind of questions in KudoZ. In most cases such questions were answered.

In any case it would be good to discuss the problem with your customer.





[Edited at 2005-07-30 19:59]


I think you are absolutely right Angela. There's nothing wrong with paraphrasing, authors do it all the time....Some 'adaptation' is an inevitable feature of translation.

Here's an example of paraphrasing of EW from the WWW:

"And as Edith Wharton pointed out in Green's essay, one key difference between France and America was the former's greater sense of history."

Obviously, it takes away from the text if it's done with all the quotes, but your stand is entirely pragmatic, as a translator you -generally speaking - don't have to locate the work(s), purchase them and read them through to obtain a few lines of direct citations.



[Edited at 2005-07-31 10:34]


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
Italian to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Lia and to all of you!!!! Jul 31, 2005

I'll be exploiting you lovely folks for Edith (she is one of my absolute favourites - much better than Henry James, oops, did I say that?), but I fear there are others, so I may post another couple of requests here.
BTW - the job is from a direct customer who contacted me through my proz page, I got a good rate AND it's a highly prestigious museum in Switzerland. It's not my first proz direct contact, but certainly worth the wait.
Angela


Lia Fail wrote:

I think you are absolutely right Angela. There's nothing wrong with paraphrasing, authors do it all the time....Some 'adaptation' is an inevitable feature of translation.

Here's an example of paraphrasing of EW from the WWW:

"And as Edith Wharton pointed out in Green's essay, one key difference between France and America was the former's greater sense of history."

Obviously, it takes away from the text if it's done with all the quotes, but your stand is entirely pragmatic, as a translator you -generally speaking - don't have to locate the work(s), purchase them and read them through to obtain a few lines of direct citations.



[Edited at 2005-07-31 10:34]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some more thoughts on quoted material and back translations Jul 31, 2005

I can't help track down the Wharton quotations, but I'd like to share a recent experience and also a few suggestions.

A client quoted a very well known Mexican author, who had been translated into English. I couldn't find the original text on-line, so we ordered the book. Much to our surprise, we couldn't find the quotation. We then assumed we had a wrong edition, but -- to make what was for us a long story short -- the English "translation" turned out to have material that NEVER appeared in Spanish in the book that ostensibly was translated (to put it another way, the author added specific text for his English-speaking audience).

A suggestion: Google now has its "text" and "scholar" search engines, and those are sometimes helpful for finding text.

I agree with the person who suggests that you notify (and educate if necessary) your client about the issues around back translations.

Good luck!
Patricia


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:27
Member (2004)
Italian to English
I also agree... Aug 3, 2005

[I think you are absolutely right Angela. There's nothing wrong with paraphrasing, authors do it all the time....Some 'adaptation' is an inevitable feature of translation.]

...you can't be expected to find every quote unless they're willing to pay for the extra research.
Names of films, paintings and books are always tough ones too. You know how they love changing names to fit the local markets and usually you can't even imagine what the name was in English.
Anyway, if I can't find a quote I usually try to translate some key words then google what I have, together with the writer's name. It usually works, it depends on how much time you have.

[Edited at 2005-08-03 18:42]


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Desi_vdb
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
ask for help on forums Aug 17, 2005

I'm sure there are forums out there with people looking for quotes as a hobby. I know a good one for poetry: http://www.emule.com/2poetry/phorum/list.php?7

And I'm sure there are similar ones for novels. You are right, there is no way you can do all the research yourself in a week time.


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