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Latin Expressions to be translated
Thread poster: Heike Reagan

Heike Reagan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:23
Member (2004)
German to English
Oct 20, 2005

Hello again, everyone,
it's me again

I took on a project to translate certain terms (biological, scientific, etc) from English to German.

Now that I get the files, 95 % of those expressions are Latin. I posted a Kudoz question on this
just get some feedback to be sure, and it seems to me that those terms are just kept in Latin. Very very few actually have German names, that I saw and by now I swear I have looked at hundreds of pages. Most of the terms seem to be subspecies, of which I'm quite sure that there are no actual German "common" names. So I just keep the latin term and add (VERY occasionally) a German "common" name.

I have tried to verify this several times with the client, to be sure I'm doing this right, because it seems a bit odd. He said yes, that's what I should do.
The client now seems to think that I'm just copying the terms and not entering an actual German translation. We have no issues yet, but I am a bit unsure. What do you all think?

Thanks again!

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xxxPFB  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
English to French
+ ...
Latin names - Plants Oct 20, 2005

Hello Heike

I can only speak for plants, and for English into French.

Having said this, it is not uncommon to give just the Latin names. There are so many species, subsp., varieties, etc, as you very well know, that giving the French name could be misleading, especially since they vary from one French region to the other and I suspect this might be the case in Germany as well.

However, it is usually possible to use a French name when talking of the family or the genus - ie larger groups - as they often have a common name in French. But the Latin name always follows.

Your client, if s/he knows anything about biology/zoology/botany, shouldn't be surprised that you use Latin names: this is the language of that science.

I hope you find this reassuring.

[Edited at 2005-10-20 21:38]

[Edited at 2005-10-20 21:39]

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Local time: 10:23
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
I use this website as reference Oct 21, 2005

I use this website as reference for latin names etc.:

It has proved to be a great help to me, so perhaps you can use it as well.

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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
German to English
+ ...
musings Oct 22, 2005

The reaction of your client is understandable, but perhaps you can convince the client that retaining the Latin names is correct if:
- the source text uses only Latin names, rather than a combination of Latin names and common names;
- you can demonstrate that equivalent common names do not exist in German (googling the Latin names with site:de should provide convincing evidence);
- you explain to the client that the Latin names are the only internationally standard and/or exact names, and German common names are unlikely to exist for plants or animals that are not common or commonly known in Germany;
- retaining the Latin names is appropriate to the target audience (which IMO is ultimately the responsibility of the client to determine - it may be that the the text is simply inappropriate to the client's intended target audience);
- you explain to the client that your job (and responsibility) as a translator is to accurately render the meaning of the source text in a different language, not just to translate words (for that the client could - for better or worse - simply consult a dictionary or use Babelfish), and describe the research you have done to determine whether common names exist in German.

Ultimately, what the client is paying for is not just the physical result, but also your expertise.

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