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To translate or not to translate the titles of paintings?
Thread poster: paolamonaco
paolamonaco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 25, 2006

Dear colleagues,

I'm working on a project that involves the IT>ENG translation of a museum brochure. The brochure contains the Italian titles of paintings (most of which don't have any "official" English translation).


As to titles, what should I do?
1. Leave the Italian titles of the paintings in italics, without any translation
2. Leave the Italian titles in italics, providing the English translation in brackets
3. Just write the English translation without the Italian title.

Any suggestion is much appreciated
Thank you
Paola


[Edited at 2006-02-25 00:08]

[Edited at 2006-02-25 00:13]


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 16:38
German to English
Put English in brackets Feb 25, 2006

A significant portion of the English-speaking public would not recognize the name "La Giaconda", for example, but they would know "Mona Lisa." You'll have to do a little research, but there are English titles of many, if not most famous Italian paintings.

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jemad
Spain
Local time: 22:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Italian titles Feb 25, 2006

I think it depends on the Target... but If you are going to translate the brochure I think you should leave the titles in Italian. I will never translate them. In any case a translation between brackets but just the Italian title alone is good...

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Mercedes Alonso
Local time: 17:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Italian Feb 25, 2006

Both as a translator and a museum visitor, I prefer the original titles. However, one might want to know what the title means, so I recomend option number 2. It takes up more space but keeps everyone informed without sacrificing the original titles, which aren't the same when translated.
Hope I helped,
Mercedes


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Put English in bracket Feb 25, 2006

Agree with Kevin and Mercedes. I would do your second alternative
Leave the Italian titles in italics, providing the English translation in brackets


What an enjoyable project!

Monika

[Edited at 2006-02-25 01:06]


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:38
Ask the client Feb 25, 2006

I would leave the Italian and include an English translation in parenthesis. However, I would ask the client his/her preference first. That would take a lot of stress and guessing away.

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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:38
English to Latvian
+ ...
Put English in brackets Feb 25, 2006

I agree with Kevin.
In most of my artbooks (and my collection is really big and in amny languages) the titles are translated, except in rare cases (for instance, "Las Meninas" usually stands in Spanish regardless the target language).
I assume, however, that you are dealing with less known works, therefore it would be reasonable to preserve the Italian title, too.

Last but not least- ask the client!


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paolamonaco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Opinions of professionals Feb 25, 2006

Before asking the client, I just wanted to ask the opinion of other professionals in order to come up with the best solution and make a proposal to the client.

Thank you very much
Paola


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Option number 2 Feb 25, 2006

I agree with all of the suggestions you have received. One of my regular clients (one of my favorites) is the local museum of art. I have been translating into Spanish the titles of paintings, to be used in what they call "labels", a small printed sign in both languages (English and Spanish) that goes next to each work of art. For Spanish speakers, it's very helpful to know what the title means. I should say that I live in US border city that has a large Hispanic population, so this is absolutely necessary. We also get a lot of visitors from Mexico.
In a brochure, it would also be nice to know what the title means. And this can be a time consuming project, because the more famous paintings already have "official" translations. I have spent many hours on the internet looking for information like this.
But it's a very worthwhile project. I love doing their translations.
As far as asking the client, I would take a slightly different approach. Remember that you are the expert, you can make a recommendation based on your experience, you can also mention that you've consulted with colleagues, and that you think this is the best way to proceed. They will respect you for it. You can't expect someone who is not a translator to know how to handle this. Their only point of reference might be that they might have seen another translated brochure from another museum. That doesn't mean that the other museum was "right or wrong", it was just what they chose to do. Keep that in mind. Good luck to you with your translation.

teju


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:38
You are the expert, but the client has the last word... Feb 25, 2006

While I completely agree with the first part of teju's message, I would like to comment on the second part:

"[...] Remember that you are the expert [...] You can't expect someone who is not a translator to know how to handle this. Their only point of reference might be that they might have seen another translated brochure from another museum. [...]"

Of course we are the "experts", but we should never underestimate the client. They might have a very clear idea of what they want, but might have not communicated it to the translator for a variety of reasons (for instance, they forgot, or they think it is obvious).

Also, "asking the client" does not mean asking stupid questions. By the way you ask, they will know you are a professional. You can ask by giving suggestions, informing of what you have done in the past, what you consider the best solution to their particular case, and so on.

By not asking, you risk having an unsatisfied client (he did not like your solution; he would have solved it in a different way), having to repeat the work, or have the client misjudge you (anyone with more experience would have asked first).

There might also be a case where, despite your experience and the usual ways of addressing certain translation problem, the client might just want something different, with which you might not agree. Even then you will probably have to follow his/her instructions (or decline the job). This is what I mean by the client always has the last word (he might not always be right, but he will have the last word).

Just think about going to the hair dresser, the mechanic, the dentist, the notary. If you want to be satisfied with the work they will perform for you, you have to tell them what you want. And the more information you give them, the more probabilities that you will end up satisfied with their work. And if you end up not liking your haircut and confront the hair dresser, he'll probably say "you never told me", and you will probably answer "well, why did'nt you asked?". Translations are no different.

[Edited at 2006-02-25 17:48]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:38
French to English
Another point in favour of option 2 Feb 25, 2006

I too would tend for favour option 2.

An additional advantage to this option is that, if you cannot get a response from the client before the deadline, you can point out that it also covers options 1 and 3, as all they have to do is delete the bit they don't want


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clarification Feb 25, 2006

Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

Also, "asking the client" does not mean asking stupid questions. By the way you ask, they will know you are a professional. You can ask by giving suggestions, informing of what you have done in the past, what you consider the best solution to their particular case, and so on.


There might also be a case where, despite your experience and the usual ways of addressing certain translation problem, the client might just want something different, with which you might not agree. Even then you will probably have to follow his/her instructions (or decline the job). This is what I mean by the client always has the last word (he might not always be right, but he will have the last word).

Just think about going to the hair dresser, the mechanic, the dentist, the notary. If you want to be satisfied with the work they will perform for you, you have to tell them what you want. And the more information you give them, the more probabilities that you will end up satisfied with their work. And if you end up not liking your haircut and confront the hair dresser, he'll probably say "you never told me", and you will probably answer "well, why did'nt you asked?". Translations are no different.

[Edited at 2006-02-25 17:48]


Rosa, I agree with you on this point, I think we were both saying the same thing in different ways. I said that she should recommend which is the best way to handle this, in her opinion, just like you did. Giving suggestions is the same thing as making a recommendation.

As far as the last part of your comment, I would never dare tell my dentist what I wanted him/her to do to me. The distinction here is that the dentist is a professional, in the same way that I would never tell my doctor how to treat any illness. Now, the hairdresser is not the same thing, we are talking about something cosmetic (sobre gustos no hay nada escrito). What someone thinks is a good haircut or hairstlye is completely subjective. In that case, I would definitely tell my hairdresser what I wanted him to do. But translators are professionals.

I once did a translation of a divorce decree from Spanish to English for a Mexican woman who spoke English. When I gave her the translation, she told me with a very condescending tone "I'll have to make sure you did a good job before I pay you". Trying not to show how offended I was by her comment, I replied "Oh, I didn't realize that you too were a translator". She got the point, took her checkbook out of her purse, paid me and did not say another word. This has been my one and only bad experience with a client. Did she have the last word? Yes. She could've not paid me unless I let her "check" my work. I then would've taken my translation back and she could've called someone else who didn't mind being treated like that. Most clients are not rude, most clients appreciate working with someone who helps them with the translation project. A big percentage of my clients have never worked with a translator before, and it's up to us to set the standards (within reason, of course, there are a lot of things out of our control).

I agree that we always need to be diplomatic, and professional in the way that we make recommendations and suggestions. Clients look for guidance from any professional that they might hire. One extreme would be for the translator to turn to his client and tell him "I'll do whatever you want me to do". The other extreme would be for the translator to think "it's going to be done my way or I won't do the job". And the middle ground is usually the best way to handle things. The translator can start a sentence with "In my experience, the best way to do this is..." and the client, if he/she is smart, will appreciate the advice. I think we can all agree with that. Saludos,

teju


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Deependra Pandey  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:08
English to Hindi
+ ...
One should know the meaning. Feb 25, 2006

paolamonaco wrote:

Dear colleagues,

I'm working on a project that involves the IT>ENG translation of a museum brochure. The brochure contains the Italian titles of paintings (most of which don't have any "official" English translation).


As to titles, what should I do?
1. Leave the Italian titles of the paintings in italics, without any translation
2. Leave the Italian titles in italics, providing the English translation in brackets
3. Just write the English translation without the Italian title.

Any suggestion is much appreciated
Thank you
Paola


[Edited at 2006-02-25 00:08]

[Edited at 2006-02-25 00:13]


Hi Paola

Besides translations, being a Painter (part-time) as well, I myself wouldn't like to have as it is words since the concern is for other language. To me, Option 2 is quite OK. You should provide the meanings in English besides the actual words.

I myself had translated few invitations and brochures in past for Hindi and as per advice from the artist and gallery owners I provided the Hindi translations for Titles. Even those hindi words later announced by Anchor during live presentation ceremony.

Fore more, you may ask your client as well, if they donn mind.

Cheers
Deependra


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paolamonaco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Charlie Feb 25, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

I too would tend for favour option 2.

An additional advantage to this option is that, if you cannot get a response from the client before the deadline, you can point out that it also covers options 1 and 3, as all they have to do is delete the bit they don't want


That's a wonderful idea.... LOL


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paolamonaco  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
to teju and Rosa Maria Feb 25, 2006

teju wrote:

As far as asking the client, I would take a slightly different approach. Remember that you are the expert, you can make a recommendation based on your experience, you can also mention that you've consulted with colleagues, and that you think this is the best way to proceed. They will respect you for it. You can't expect someone who is not a translator to know how to handle this. Their only point of reference might be that they might have seen another translated brochure from another museum. That doesn't mean that the other museum was "right or wrong", it was just what they chose to do. Keep that in mind. Good luck to you with your translation.

teju



Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

Of course we are the "experts", but we should never underestimate the client. They might have a very clear idea of what they want, but might have not communicated it to the translator for a variety of reasons (for instance, they forgot, or they think it is obvious).

Also, "asking the client" does not mean asking stupid questions. By the way you ask, they will know you are a professional. You can ask by giving suggestions, informing of what you have done in the past, what you consider the best solution to their particular case, and so on.

By not asking, you risk having an unsatisfied client (he did not like your solution; he would have solved it in a different way), having to repeat the work, or have the client misjudge you (anyone with more experience would have asked first).

There might also be a case where, despite your experience and the usual ways of addressing certain translation problem, the client might just want something different, with which you might not agree. Even then you will probably have to follow his/her instructions (or decline the job). This is what I mean by the client always has the last word (he might not always be right, but he will have the last word).



I must say that asking the client is essential to avoid misjudging, and thanks to your suggestions, I will try to do it in a very professional way .

I have already worked for the same people and I know that they wrote the texts with great care and that they expect me to carry out the translation project with the same care.
As to museum brochures, "they are the experts" (it's their message I'm going to convey) and I have to keep this in mind.

Probably they already know what they want, but just didn't communicate it. Even in this case, I think it's my duty to tell the client that there's different options and explain why I consider a solution better than another (in the past other clients asked to provide the English translation in brackets, but to be sure this is the best solution in this case, I asked to the translator's community).
Now I'm pretty sure that most of you (if not all), translators and museum visitors, would prefer a translation in brackets.

Thank you very much
Paola



[Edited at 2006-02-25 19:55]

[Edited at 2006-02-25 19:56]


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