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Is there such a thing as a guide to register?
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 29, 2007

I have been asked to look over a translation which has been brightly decorated with red track changes and now looks very Christmassy. (Although I doubt that was the intention.) As you might guess, the vast majority of changes are style preferences but I can't make my mind up about this:

"gracias a la generosidad..." translated to "thanks to the generosity..." and ultimately changed to "made possible through the generosity...".


Care to comment?

Paty


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Italian to English
+ ...
Is this a translation you did and someone else revised? Nov 29, 2007

In any case, any style changes of the kind you mention are simply a matter of preference - I don't think there's much difference between them in register (made possible sounds slightly more formal, perhaps, but there's very little in it).
Personally, I prefer "made possible through the generosity of..." of the two examples you give, but I might have translated the phrase as a whole in a completely different way!

In any case, there's nothing wrong with "thanks to the generosity of".

[Edited at 2007-11-29 15:22]


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on the style of the text Nov 29, 2007

'made possible' sounds more formal, I think.

I don't know if there are any 'style guides' in this field.
I usually google expressions and hope a few texts of similar nature turn up, so I can use these for a comparison.

One needs to be critical, though. Strange terms spread through the Internet like wildfire, sometimes.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Italian to English
+ ...
(off topic) Margreet, do you think we were separated at birth? Nov 29, 2007

We so often say the same thing at exactly the same time...

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
(off topic too) Don't know about that, Marie-Hélène, Nov 29, 2007

but I'd really like to meet you in person some day!

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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No, it's not one of mine... Nov 29, 2007

thanks, Marie-Hélène. It's not actually my translation but I was asked to review it in light of all the changes.

I agree with you and Magreet that "made possible through" sounds a little more formal, perhaps, but if that's the case, aren't we changing the register of the original piece? It's atually quite a formal piece of writing about the history of a museum. I know this example is not really illustrative - it was just convenient - but it does beg another question: should we change the register used by the author if we think it's inappropriate given the target audience?


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Italian to English
+ ...
Changing the register Nov 29, 2007

patyjs wrote:

should we change the register used by the author if we think it's inappropriate given the target audience?




Yes, I think we should. While I generally agree that translation revisers should lay off changing the translator's style, I don't think that applies when the style is clearly too formal or informal for the context.
(I've actually revised a translation to be much less formal as the translator didn't seem to have understood that the chatty style of the original was both intentional and appropriate to the context.)

In your case, if the differences in register are all similar to your example - fairly minimal - I'd say the reviser has been over-picky. I'm sure you've done so already, but if not it would be a good idea to have a look at the original translation by hiding the changes to see what you think of it.

[Edited at 2007-11-29 15:46]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Italian to English
+ ...
Distinction Nov 29, 2007

I'm not sure from what you've said whether you're referring to the register of the original source text or of the original translation. I don't think it's in our remit to adjust the register of the translation with respect to the source text, whatever we think of it.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Ask the client the purpose Nov 29, 2007

patyjs wrote:
I have been asked to look over a translation which has been brightly decorated with red track changes and now looks very Christmassy.


What does the client want? Does he want to know if the changes are correct, or if the changes are necessary?


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
a grant report? a marketing document? Nov 29, 2007

patyjs wrote:

"gracias a la generosidad..." translated to "thanks to the generosity..." and ultimately changed to "made possible through the generosity...".

Care to comment?

Paty


Hi, Paty!

Assuming that you are talking about the register of the translation, I'd say that your job is to first assess the register of the original. If possible, ask --or have your client ask-- the museum's officers about the intended audience. Is this a marketing or promotional document aimed at the general public? Or is it a more formal grant report?

Specifically about your question: In my experience with grant writing, it is normal to say "made possible through the generosity of". That gives the donor a special pat on the back and perhaps even a sense of having "given birth" to this wonderful exhibit or whatever.

Patricia
PS I just saw Samuel's post...he and I are on the same page!

[Edited at 2007-11-29 17:33]


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Samuel and Patricia Nov 29, 2007

I'm sorry if my original post was a little vague... my intention wasn't to ask advice about the revision in itself, but to clarify some questions that came up because of it, if you get my meaning. Marie-Hélène and Magreet agreed that there is a slight difference in register in the example I gave but what I'd really like to know if there is any kind of reference work on the subject of register.

Another example I spotted was this (probably style more than register):
"...museographical exercise which aims to provide..." was changed to "...museographical execise aiming to provide..."

Is this just preference or is there a legitimate reason for the change?

FYI I was asked to look at the revision, (not my translation) and give my general thoughts on the changes that were made. It's really just a source for examples to illustrate my question.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Italian to English
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No idea if there's such a thing as a guide to register Nov 29, 2007

But if all or even most of the changes are like that, whoever revised it doesn't seem to understand the purpose of revision. The idea, as I'm sure you're aware, is not to turn it into "how I would have translated it", but to check for typos, inconsistencies, grammatical errors and clumsily translated phrases and mistranslations. Possibly also formatting.
But changing "which aims" to "aiming" is just petty, IMO.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 14:42
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Brief comments Nov 30, 2007


"gracias a la generosidad..." translated to "thanks to the generosity..." and ultimately changed to "made possible through the generosity...".


Regarding this particular one - "Gracias a la generosidad" is a lot more ambiguous regarding tone than "Thanks to the generosity..." and can be used in very formal contexts (whereas "thanks to the generosity..." has a more limited application, IMO), which was probably the reason for the change (an excellent decision on behalf of the editor, BTW). Technically, however, the translation was correct, as you've mentioned yourself.

"...museographical exercise which aims to provide..." was changed to "...museographical execise aiming to provide..."


In American English, it would actually be "wrong" to say "museographical exercise which aims to..." The correct way of writing it would be "museographical exercise that aims to" or "museographical exercise, which aims to," depending on the surrounding text. "Aiming to provide" sounds kind of awkward in my opinion - not wrong, but it's just an unexpected combination of words. (This could, of course, be different for British English, which I can understand perfectly but would never even dare to try and reproduce faithfully.)

As for a style guide, however, I don't think there will be any that will adequately replace simple intuition. Especially not given the enormous range of possibilities out there.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Happens a lot, though Nov 30, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

But if all or even most of the changes are like that, whoever revised it doesn't seem to understand the purpose of revision. The idea, as I'm sure you're aware, is not to turn it into "how I would have translated it", but to check for typos, inconsistencies, grammatical errors and clumsily translated phrases and mistranslations. Possibly also formatting.
But changing "which aims" to "aiming" is just petty, IMO.


I've seen it numerous times, just this week a translation I did was revised this way by a colleague and sent back to me by the agency for comment.
I told them - as I've done before in cases like this - that it's all a matter of style and personal preferences and that it's up to them whether or not to accept the changes.

Last year, a revision like this led the agency to believe I'd made a mess of the translation and they didn't even want to pay. I protested and they hired a third translator to assess both the translation and the revision and I got paid in the end.

Problem in my case is, most PM's don't read Dutch and haven't got a clue. They have no choice but to rely on their revisors to assess the quality of a translation into Dutch. It's annoying though. Sometimes I get the feeling revisors believe they should earn their money by making as many changes as possible.

I think there are a few forum threads on this, too.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 14:42
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
True that is! Nov 30, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:
Sometimes I get the feeling revisors believe they should earn their money by making as many changes as possible.


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