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Translation analysis
Thread poster: laurem
laurem  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:35
English to French
+ ...
Apr 3, 2006

I am in touch with a girl who studies at the school for interpretors where I studied myself some 15 years ago... She has been asked to analyse a translation (a bad one) for which she only has the French translation, not the original English text. She has to redo part of tha translation (without the original) and make a structured analysis of the caracteristics of the translation (with examples). She has asked for my help but, to be honest, I have never done such an exercice in the past and am not sure what I should start with. Did anyone of you had to do such a task before and could help with the methodology to adopt?
Thanks if you can help

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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:35
Italian to English
Look out for source language influence Apr 3, 2006

Hi Laurence,

If your friend has had no further instructions from the teacher, then one of the things to look out for will be French that shows the influence of the original English text in the form of non-standard orthography, vocabulary, grammar, phraseology, sentence structure and organisation of content.



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Veronika Hansova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:35
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
Lacking the original Apr 3, 2006

This is a tricky task. How can you do a translation analysis if you do not have the source text. For instance you can compare the word order (if the translator followed the source language word order and thus made a serious mistake), semiotics (misunderstood something from the source text and misinterpreted it in the target text), stylistics (source text - very text - unsuitable expressions)...

This way you can only do an analysis of this target text and then I would argue if it is a "translation" analysis. A terrible mistake of the teachers, I think.

I would suggest dividing the analysis in several parts:
- grammatical analysis (mistakes, typos, ...)
- syntactical analysis (word order, sentence order, wrong conjunctions, punctuation...)
- semantical analysis (differences in meanings, various explanations, why this and not that, possible other translations - which will be very hard and full of guess if not having the original)
- stylistic analysis (styles, genres and deviations from it, f.e. 1st paragraph - very formal, 2nd very informal - incoherency in styles...)

Perhaps there could be other levels too but at this moment I can remember only those four.

Good luck with it and perhaps try to advise your friend to ask oncemore for the original - maybe they only forgot

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laurem  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:35
English to French
+ ...
No mistake from the teacher! Apr 3, 2006

No, the teacher did not forget... The source text is not given on purpose!
This is a strange exercice, isn't it.

On top of the analysis, the student has to rewrite the translation and improve its quality, still with no possible reference to the source text!

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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Forget the word "translation" Apr 3, 2006

Obviously, your friend has to analyse a French text. Incidentally, the text happens to be a translation from English, but this is irrelevant for the purpose of the exercise, as the source text has not been provided. She will have to analyse grammar, syntax, semantics, style, etc., and rewrite the text making sure it sounds like originally writen in good French, not like a (bad) translation.

That's how I see it.

[Edited at 2006-04-03 11:05]

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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 18:35
.... and insert "Proofread", "Copy-edit" etc. Apr 4, 2006

This, for me, is a normal task, one that I carry out every day of my working life. I generally proofread and/or copy edit without source texts, with texts that have been translated from many different languages.

The main thing to do is to shift the analysis away from the text's author and instead concentrate on the text's consumer - some French reader in this case. This means thinking about the possible needs of the people who are going to read the text.

- Why are they reading it - for information/pleasure/etc. ?
- Who will be reading it - a French native or someone using French because that is the language of their business?
- What kind of person is the text targetting - academia/general public/etc. ?

This means that you need to measure things like the effectiveness of the text, what kind of reaction does it/is it likely to elicit, etc. What would a Parisian business manager read it, or a Bulgarian professor using French as a second language?

Only once you have analysed the user of the text is it time to look at the grammar, semantics and the rest, because only then are you in a position to evaluate its fitness for purpose.

Well, I hope that this helps a bit.

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