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Abbreviations. Should they be Translated?
Thread poster: Marco V

Marco V
Local time: 22:36
Italian to English
+ ...
Nov 1, 2007

I have a couple of terms in an Index, such as

-Organo di Vigilanza (O.d.V.)

I translate:
-Body of Surveillance ("But what happens here?) Should I leave OdV or should I abbreviate my translation--> B.o.S

-Contratto Collettivo Nazionale Lavoro (CCNL)
-National Labor Collective Agreement (should I put NLCA?)

What would you do?

Thanks all.

Buon ponte (per chi non deve lavorare!)


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Think about it... Nov 3, 2007

There are no hard and fast rules, so I'll try to give you some practical advice.

When you are dealing with an international/large organisation, who's name and its abbreviation is well known in the language you translate into, then use the known translated version and its abbreviation if exists. Some of these are known by their English name and letters (UNESCO), therefore you don't need to translate it at all into Italian for example. The same applies vice versa: everybody knows FIAT, but not so many actually knows that it is the acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. The translated version of that would be totally alien to the whole word, although the letters would have remained the same. (Italian Automobile Factory, Torino: IAFT?)

It is always worth checking on the internet, whether the term has been translated before, or an organisation may have their own translated version and abbreviation for their name for example.

When you can't find either, translate it, but don't try to use the acronym of your translation. For example check NALCO in English on the internet. It is very interesting reading, but you will be hard pressed to find the reference to "National Labour Collective Agreement". In other words, it is not readily understandable.

I would keep the original name and acronym and put the translation into brackets in the first instance - for explanation.
Alternatively, - depending on the text - the translation and the original acronym could come first, with the proper original name in brackets.

The logic is: if the text only mentions the term a few times, translate it once, then use the original or its abbreviation.
If the original text often refers to the CCNL, it should be mentioned as the CCNL.

When the text mentions the full name of the organisation frequently, or may use just the Contratto Collectivo term a lot, it is more sensible to give priority to the translation; National Labour Collective Agreement, or Collective Agreement, but still use the CCNL acronym.

Good luck

Judith

[Edited at 2007-11-03 17:36]


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Marco V
Local time: 22:36
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Nov 4, 2007

Thank you very much Judith. I will follow your advice. I thought that was the case but wasnt exactly sure.
I sincerely thank you for the very complete explanation.
Thanks for your time.
Marco


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A few pointers Nov 4, 2007

Marco V wrote:
I have a couple of terms in an Index, such as
-Organo di Vigilanza (O.d.V.)


The fact that these are terms in an index, complicates matters a bit. You would need to find out if the author of the text had used a certain abbreviation in the body of the document. And since this is an index, odds are people are going to consult it for known terms (therefore, only for known abbreviations too).

But I have seen some documents where the poor author is so used to using abbreviations that he'd add them even if they serve no purpose. My approach is to use the abbreviation in the original language if there is a chance that it might be an accepted abbreviation in the field. Otherwise I make up an appropriate abbreviation if necessary. But... only if necessary. If in my opinion an abbreviation serves no purpose, I simply leave it out. Even if the abbreviation is used elsewhere in the text, if it is a short text I might get away with using the full form in all cases.

Abbreviations should be used sparingly. In fact, you can often "abbreviate" a multiword phrase by shortening it to just one or two words and writing the text in such a way that the context makes misunderstanding improbable.

Say for example the text said "By posting, you accept the Forum Rules of Etiquette (RFE)", and "RFE" is used elsewhere in the text, you could often get away with using just "forum rules" or "these rules" or "ettiquette rules" or similar... then you don't have to use an abbreviation.

In my opinion, abbreviations make texts harder to read, unless they are well-known abbreviations.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Very good point... Nov 4, 2007

juvera wrote:
The translated version of that would be totally alien to the whole word, although the letters would have remained the same. (Italian Automobile Factory, Torino: IAFT?)


Good point. I recently tried to set up wireless internet using an Afrikaans version of MS Windows. The translators of the localisation pack decided to translate all abbreviations... which meant that I was totally clueless because the abbreviations in my wireless modem's handbook (in English) bore no relation to the abbreviations in MS Windows, and since I did not know the full form of either, I was unable to even guess which abbreviation referred to which other abbreviation.


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