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Your most difficult translating assignment
Thread poster: Miomira Brankovic

Miomira Brankovic  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 06:36
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
Nov 19, 2005

It is not very often that I can say: "This is the most difficult text I have ever had to translate" but such jobs do come every once in a while. Just the other day I had to translate a very complex legal text, dealing with very intricate financial matters involving a cobweb of corporations, subsidiaries, parent and daughter companies... Not to mention that it was written in strict legalese, where some sentences were 16-29 (sic!) lines long. To translate this type of text one has to have not only perfect command of the source and target languages, but also an exceptional understanding of legal, corporate and financial matters to be able to grasp all the nuances of the source text and render them correctly in the target language.
I would say that was one of the most difficult translations I have ever done (after 25+ years in this business). What was yours? What made that particular job so difficult? How did you approach it? Was there ever something so difficult that in the end you had to admit that you cannot do it?


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
Interpreting in a mental health interview Nov 19, 2005

It can't be that difficult to translate something that makes sense. If it doesn't it's also easy to admit it. The worst of all is when the speech makes "some sense", which is often the case in mental health (I've done a few of those but I'm thinking of one in particular).
I'd rather memorize a ten-minute political or business speech with no notes than do a one-minute mental health speech with notes.
J.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 06:36
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Not the most difficult, but so far the worst joke .... Nov 19, 2005

It's pretty fresh, so there's a chance I forget it eventually ...

I had to do a text in a DOC file format, where the agency forbid me to touch up the original. Here's a typical sentence

Um ein rückwärts Drehen der Vakuumpumpe nach dem Abschalten zu
vermeiden, ist die Vakuumpumpe mit einem Rückschlagventil (f, 714)
versehen.

Now, the new lines were hard returns, so this one single sentence was cut up into three segments, WITH THE VERB GLORIOUSLY ALONE IN THE LAST SEGMENT. Translating into a language that does not use verbs as fullstops was so hard, I nearly started to stutter.

One more thing: the agent sent me the file back for a check with a lot of question marks saying for example "?versehen? - you forgot to translate that".

Suffice to say the lady was a German.

Lep pozdrav

smo


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:36
German to Italian
+ ...
A poem Nov 20, 2005

Maybe not the most difficult ever in my career so far, but the first that comes to my mind: the poem "Twelve Months" by George Ellis.

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

I had to keep the same structure in the translation into Italian, finding adjectives that could define January, February etc. AND rhyme with each other. Oh my, that was hard


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:06
English to Tamil
+ ...
Share with us the result of your labours, sir Nov 20, 2005

Come on, let us enjoy the poem in Italian too, unless of course you are banned by your client from revealing it as a part of confidentiality agreement.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
Duca wrote:

Maybe not the most difficult ever in my career so far, but the first that comes to my mind: the poem "Twelve Months" by George Ellis.

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

I had to keep the same structure in the translation into Italian, finding adjectives that could define January, February etc. AND rhyme with each other. Oh my, that was hard


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:36
German to Italian
+ ...
not published yet Nov 20, 2005

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

Come on, let us enjoy the poem in Italian too, unless of course you are banned by your client from revealing it as a part of confidentiality agreement.

Regards,
N.Raghavan



Hi, there was not really a confidentiality agreement (of course it's not a state secret ) but the book it was included in hasn't been published yet, and I'm not sure if the publisher allows me to disclose its contents prematurely. Anyway, thanks for your interest


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Vauwe
Local time: 06:36
English to German
+ ...
SAP notes Nov 20, 2005

Have you ever translated SAP notes? They are the worst. After you have read millions of instructions how to translate SAP notes , you can start. If you have to translate them online you don't only have to simply erase and overwrite the source text. At the end of the line the text does not break and wrap automatically to the next line, no, but anytime you add something you must paste & copy the end of the line to the next line which truncates at the end of this line so that you have to copy & paste it to the next line and so forth. Since you are online the text you just typed appears with a little delay. The moment you think the text you just typed in is okay you see that you've created double entries, double spaces etc and you have to correct it and see that at the end of the line text is gone to Nirwana again and you have to paste & copy ... So much to typing. To find the correct UI options you have to know which component you are working on so that you can open the corresponding SAP system. There you have to follow the instructions of the notes you're just translating in order to simulate the entry process and get to the right masks and fields. Don't thing you can just use the online termbase, no, it's not that easy, because you never know in which mask a field title is abreviated in a certain manner. So you are forced to simulate the whole entry process. In case you don't know in which component you are working and which system you must open or don't have the privileges to open a system, you can ask the author of that notes. And only one or two days later you will - hopefully - get an answer you can use. When you can do 500 words a day, you are good. But don't think they'll pay you more than the average word rate.

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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:36
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
That is just a really bad interface Nov 20, 2005

Vauwe wrote:

Have you ever translated SAP notes? They are the worst. After you have read millions of instructions how to translate SAP notes , you can start. If you have to translate them online you don't only have to simply erase and overwrite the source text. At the end of the line the text does not break and wrap automatically to the next line, no, but anytime you add something you must paste & copy the end of the line to the next line which truncates at the end of this line so that you have to copy & paste it to the next line and so forth. Since you are online the text you just typed appears with a little delay. ....


Dear Vauwe,

I'm afraid, but what you described appears to me as a bad, really bad, interface for translators, rather than a difficult translation in itself.

The designers of that system are surely not translator, and they have not listened to the translators' needs, and have no understanding of ergonomics or user friendly interface either.

bye
Gianfranco


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Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 06:36
English to Croatian
+ ...
Personal correspondence Nov 20, 2005

Hi Miomira,

No technical text ever gave me the headache one translation of personal correspondence did: letters of a married man to a woman he was having an affair with and her responses. The wife found out about the affair and needed the translation of letters as evidence for filing for a divorce. Letters were extremely personal and as a woman I was constantly wondering how the wife will feel reading them... I did not sleep properly for days afterwards, because those letters were a completely parallel world with his marriage and it gets you wondering about trust.

Seadeta


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Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:36
English to Polish
+ ...
A pretty straightforward thing Nov 20, 2005

'Gas Isolated Disconnector' manual. A technical thing, with no ambiguities. But it was the second one installed anywhere. The first one was in country X, the second in Poland, it was manufactured in a country Y (English is not an official language there and an original was in English: I must admit, it was well written). After I translated a chapter I was meeting 3 engineers at client premises and we were solving all problems. “Easy“ ones were solved at once, but sometimes the answer was: “Let's call country X”.

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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 06:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Transcript of a speech from a round table Nov 20, 2005

The speaker in question had obviously not prepared his presentation, and simply rambled on and on. By the time he reached the end of a sentence (many of the sentences were over 100 words long and a few were well over 200) he had often forgotten how he’d started it and was off on a completely different subject without having completed the first thought. Large chunks of this speech were therefore just about incomprehensible. It was so bad that after a while I began to think that the speaker had been not only unprepared but drunk as well! I wondered if the audience had been able to make anything of this speech by relying on the slides that were shown with it (which, unfortunately, I was not given, although I asked for them). The other speakers had really articulate, interesting presentations, so this one seemed even worse in comparison. I did what I could, but in the end all I could do in some parts was guess at what I thought the speaker might have been trying to say.

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Miomira Brankovic  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 06:36
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re. SAP notes Nov 21, 2005

Vauwe wrote:

Have you ever translated SAP notes? They are the worst.


Translated them? I actually use them daily (I work as an economist which is my primary profession). My company is using a localized Serbian SAP version translated partly from Croatian and partly from German. The end product is more often than not quite incomprehensible. Even though the words might be Serbian, the text often does not make sense, as these are not the words commonly used in accounting and business in general. I often have to revert to the German or English version to be able to understand what a particular option means. Notes and commands are often brief, with myriad of abbreviations and I am sure that whoever translated them has had to cope with a very difficult task: knowing source and target language is just not good enough here, you have to be an expert in accounting, finance, materials management... or have an expert in each of these areas proofread the translation. Alas, in the case of the version my company is using this obviously has not been done.


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