Translator's notes - in source or target language?
Thread poster: Susan Madden

Susan Madden  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2005)
German to English
Apr 23, 2006

Hi, I am translating a faxed document from German to English and some of the numbers on the document are difficult to make out. I have asked the agency for a clearer copy, but they have advised that I should simply put a note in the text saying "nicht lesbar" (illegible).

Is it common practice to write these notes in the source language (i.e. "nicht lesbar") or in the target (i.e. "illegible"). I am guessing it should be the target, but I just wanted to double-check to be sure.

Many thanks in advance for your advice!


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:01
English to German
+ ...
Depends Apr 23, 2006

Well, I'd say that you should write 'illegible' rather than 'nicht lesbar'. However, in case your client's client is located in Germany and they are not sure how good their English is, it may be necessary to write it in German instead.

In general I'd choose the target language.

Sonja

[Bearbeitet um 2006-04-23 20:22]


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Ziad Marzouka  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
Client's language Apr 23, 2006

I would go for the client's language since he/she is the one who has to read this notes. I hope this helps, good luck.

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Robin Salmon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 11:01
German to English
+ ...
Make it stand out Apr 23, 2006

I think good, clear comunication is paramount in such a case. I would put the note in red and in bold in the source language.

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Balttext  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 04:01
English to Latvian
+ ...
target Apr 24, 2006

As you are translating a document (actually drawing up a document in target language) you have to assume that it is for someone who requested to do so, because of his/her lack of knowledge for the source language, thus, IMHO, such remarks should be in target language only.


Regards,


Uldis


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ahmadwadan.com  Identity Verified
Kuwait
Local time: 04:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
Client's language Apr 24, 2006

I totally agree with Ziad.

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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:01
Swedish to English
+ ...
Illegible v incomprehensible? Apr 24, 2006

I have two clients where this situation occurs reasonably regularly and both request that "illegible" should be marked in the target language (admittedly always English...). In my opinion it makes sense to use the target language, as presumably that's what the end client wants to read the document in - what would be use of replacing an illegible word with one in what could be a foreign language for them, so making the note incomprehensible?

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Evelyn Leenen-van Dijk  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
English Apr 24, 2006

I always make my notes in English. It's a universal language and if the client keeps the comments in their archive (as this may be required as part of their process) because of audits, everybody should be able to read/understand your comments not just your client as the bodies that perform the audit are not necessarily people from that country.

Hope this makes sense to you


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Susan Madden  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2005)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all Apr 24, 2006

Thanks everyone who has had a look at this and posted a comment. I am grateful for everyone's advice. At the moment I am veering towards writing my notes in the target language, which is English, but I have another day before the deadline so would still appreciate any more comments on this.

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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:31
German to English
+ ...
Annotate the source text, write the note in target language Apr 24, 2006

I would write the note, that is use the phrase "illegible" or "nicht lesbar", in the language of the client (presumably the target language) and place the note in the source language alongside the illegible phrase or text, so it is immediately clear to the client where the problem phrase is located in the source text instead of having to trace back from the translated text to the source text.

[Edited at 2006-04-24 18:53]


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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:01
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Note in target language and in target document Apr 25, 2006

If there was a chance that your client was able to clarify those illegible parts for you before your delivery, then I would list them in either a separate document (or simply an email if there are not too many instances) or the source document and send this to them before your actual delivery. However, from what you wrote I understand that this won't be possible and you are required to add the notes in your final delivery.

I would definitely write the notes in the target language and add them to the target document. You should bear in mind that the source document would probably not be part of your delivery anyway - and even if you return the source document to the client they might not even look at it again.

There is even a chance that your note saying 'illegible' will stay in the document even when it's finalised, so the note should definitely be in the same language as the rest of the document, so that whoever reads the document will also understand the note.

It is not unusual for transcriptions of handwritten or very old texts to contain a note saying '(illegible)' where the source text can't be deciphered.

---------------------------------
Edit:

Actually, what I wrote above applies more to stuff like historic or archived documents. In your case the reason for the numbers being illegible is probably only the fact the it was faxed to you.

In that case I would go with what some of the others already said: Make a clear note in your translated document (the target), maybe in a larger font size or in red or bold. Also, tell the client about it when delivering the translation to make sure they replace your note with the relevant text/number which they should be able to see clearly on the original document.

[Edited at 2006-04-25 12:04]


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