Thread poster: Dave Simons
Faux amis (false friends): the same word (or almost) with different meanings in different languages, often only a nuance away but different nonetheless. False friends are a translator\'s arch-enemy, especially when one has a secondary meaning that is indeed the same in both languages (e.g. the French \"procéder à\" nearly always means \"to carry out\" in English but, woe is me, it can also mean \"to proceed with\").
Faux amis reach landslide proportions when translating from French into English -- I reckon I wouldn\'t be far out if I said there\'s one per sentence on average. And even when the amis are not faux at all, they often fail to sound idiomatic. Take \"dynamisme commercial\" for example -- there you have a false friend and a fickle friend in the same expression! \"Commercial dynamism\" would of course be a lousy, inaccurate translation. \"Sales dynamism\" wouldn\'t be inacccurate, just plain lousy.
So I was wondering two things: are there any multilingual people here who translate in two (or more) language pairs, one of which has many false friends and the other none or very few? If so, do you find translations in the friendless pair easier or harder to shape into a natural, accurate, easy-to-read result?
The second thing I was wondering is does anyone have any faux-ami prevention tricks? I\'m as diligent as the next person in checking my work, but I\'m sure one or two must have slipped through at some stage.
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| Forget the words - focus on the meaning || Dec 21, 2001 |
Don\'t worry about the words; concentrate on the meaning and the message that is to be conveyed.
Here\'s how the translation process works (I\'ll use the simplified version developed by one of my professors): read the source text * absorb the message/meaning * assimilate the message (\"make those ideas and thoughts your own\") * convey these ideas in the target language as if they were your own.
Look at it this way: when you speak or write, you form a thought first - an original thought. In translation, that thought is not originally yours, but you make it your own before you start to write or speak. So, the secret lies in being able to absorb other people\'s ideas and to make them your own. If you are capable of doing that, you\'ll never have any problems with \"interference\" or \"false friends\".
It\'s the same with interpreting: here it is clear to everyone (?) that you cannot allow yourself to get bogged down in words and phrases; it is the meaning and the message that you have to get across. Apply the same principle to written translation, and you should be fine - but it takes some training and getting used to.
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| Are there multilngual people out there who ... || Dec 22, 2001 |
You ask: \"are there any multilingual people here who translate in two (or more) language pairs, one of which has many false friends and the other none or very few? If so, do you find translations in the friendless pair easier or harder to shape into a natural, accurate, easy-to-read result?\"
Yes, there are. I find it easier, at least in this sense, to translate EnglishHebrew than German>English. The first has few friends, faux or otherwise. The only real temptation is to transliterate a (bastardised) \'Latin\' word used in English (e.g. Telecommunication) into Hebrew characters, rather than translate it. Some of my colleagues don\'t worry about this. I do. I use a Hebrew term if one exists and is reasonably known to the target audience; on rare occasions I have even coined neologisms where appropriate.
German/English: lots of false friends. Take \'Kontrolle\'. Usually it should be rendered as \'inspection\', occasionally \'examination\', only rarely and in specific contexts as \'control\'. There are many such examples.
The only solution is to be ever-vigilant - very tiring at 2 am, but who forced us to be translators? )
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