Translating names of job titles, governing bodies, etc.
Thread poster: Jorge Barriuso
Jorge Barriuso
Local time: 03:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 16, 2008

Hello,

I'm translating a series of documents that give information about secondary education in a specific high school. These documents are for foreign parents and students. What approach do you think I should take with names of governing bodies, job titles and proper names of School Programmes, etc.

For example:

El Consejo Escolar: Scholastic Council
Directora: Headmistress
Claustro: School Senate

There are many more examples, but my question is should I leave these in Spanish or should they be in English or perhaps Spanish with English translation in (parenthesis)? Keep in mind that although the documents are translated into different languages, when the parents have to actually deal with the school, they will most likely be talking to Spanish speakers who have no idea what the "Scholastic Council" or "headmistress" might mean. So perhaps I would do the parents a disservice by not including the Spanish names?


Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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jlrsnyder  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:04
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Provide names of titles and governing bodies in both languages Feb 16, 2008

Hello,
Having once been in the position of the parents, I prefer your option of using the actual Spanish titles and names that are used at the school with English or other language translation in parenthesis. This will give everyone a common frame of reference, and will provide a little 'scaffolding' for the parents.
It could happen that teachers and parents could be discussing school matters in English, but the teacher happens to use a different translation for 'directora', for example, and says 'principal' instead of 'headmistress.' If the parents have already seen or heard the word 'directora', they could then use that word to verify that this is the person in question and not another staff member.
By providing the terms in both languages for the parents, you would be making it clear that your intention is to communicate effectively while respecting both the language in which business is conducted at the school and the language of the parents.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:04
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree Feb 17, 2008

jlrsnyder wrote:

Hello,
Having once been in the position of the parents, I prefer your option of using the actual Spanish titles and names that are used at the school with English or other language translation in parenthesis. This will give everyone a common frame of reference, and will provide a little 'scaffolding' for the parents.
It could happen that teachers and parents could be discussing school matters in English, but the teacher happens to use a different translation for 'directora', for example, and says 'principal' instead of 'headmistress.' If the parents have already seen or heard the word 'directora', they could then use that word to verify that this is the person in question and not another staff member.
By providing the terms in both languages for the parents, you would be making it clear that your intention is to communicate effectively while respecting both the language in which business is conducted at the school and the language of the parents.


I agree entirely. In cases like this I'd use the Spanish name or title followed by the English in square brackets. Then there can be no confusion - I hope.
Regards
Jenny


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Jorge Barriuso
Local time: 03:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
which leads to another question Feb 17, 2008

Hi, thank you for your comments. I agree that keeping both versions is perhaps the wisest approach. But this leads to another question. Should the English version only be offered alongside the Spanish original the first time it appears in a document, or every time? I suspect proper style would be the former, but in longer documents with different sections, perhaps parents might skip directly to a section they are interested in and therefore encounter one of these names for the first time in a section that doesn't have the English version alongside.



[Edited at 2008-02-17 15:57]


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:04
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
consider the needs of the reader Feb 17, 2008

Jorge Barriuso wrote:

Hi, thank you for your comments. I agree that keeping both versions is perhaps the wisest approach. But this leads to another question. Should the English version only be offered alongside the Spanish original the first time it appears in a document, or every time? I suspect proper style would be the former, but in longer documents with different sections, perhaps parents might skip directly to a section they are interested in and therefore encounter one of these names for the first time in a section that doesn't have the English version alongside.



[Edited at 2008-02-17 15:57]


I do a lot of editorial work for English-language publications that deal with Latin American subject matters, and there is no editorial rule saying that you cannot refresh the reader's memory of either the original term (if you choose to use the term in the target language throughout the document), or the meaning in the target language (if you choose to use the original term and provide a target-language gloss on initial use).

My preference would be to use the *source* term throughout and provide the target equivalent on first usage for each section. I think the goal of a translated document to be used in a bilingual environment is slightly different than that which is directed toward a monolingual setting. In this case, it is very important, IMHO, that the target-speaking parents become as familiar as possible with the source terminology, because there may be situations where they have to do their best to understand or be understood without the benefit of a translation or interpreter. This may wind up sounding more "Spanglishy" that would be acceptable in other settings, but I think the goal is not only to make the information understood in the target language, but to enable the reader to better navigate a system that is dominated by the source language.


[Edited at 2008-02-17 16:58]


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Jorge Barriuso
Local time: 03:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 17, 2008

Excellent advice! It's important to remember the needs of the target audience and in this case I think the document needs to help the parents assimilate their children's education system as much as possible.

I am going to use the source term always with a target language version in brackets the first time it is mentioned each section.

Thanks again to everybody!


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dcanossa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with everything said Feb 20, 2008

Normally, keeping the source language terms is not ideal, but in this case it is very advisable. We don't have to forget that our job is to help two parties communicate, and make it easier for them to understand each other.

Translation is not exact sciences and can (should) be bent according to the needs. If, for example, I am translating a hardware text from English into Spanish Spanish, and I have to translate "mouse", I would go for "ratón", even though here, in Argentina, we call it just "mouse". Translation theory helps sometimes, but my advice is not to always stick to it, just use it as a tool.

Good luck!


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