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Looking for: Quote confirming the theory that "A translation should mirror the layout of the ST"
Thread poster: Jan Born
Jan Born
English to German
Oct 9, 2005

Hello everybody,

I'm working on a paper for my university course, and I'm looking for a quote from the relevant literature which backs my statement that "a translation should mirror the layout of the source text as closely as possible" - in particular with reference to legal texts.

Any help much appreciated. I've trawled through dozens of books and haven't been able to come up with anything - but I'm sure there is a nice quote somewhere out there. The quote can be either German or English. Quotes in other languages are welcome as well - as long as somebody can tell me what they actually mean...

TIA,

Jan Born


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Rodolfo Raya  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:28
English to Spanish
Should it always mirror layout? Oct 9, 2005

Jan Born wrote:

I'm looking for a quote from the relevant literature which backs my statement that "a translation should mirror the layout of the source text as closely as possible" - in particular with reference to legal texts.


Hi Jan,

I don't think that your statement is correct.

Translation tools try to preserve layout as much as possible, but this is not always the right thing.

When you translate from English to German preserving layout could be good, but if you translate to Chinese, Japanese or Korean layout MUST change.

If you translate to Arabic, Hebrew or Urdu, layout must be reversed.

Each language has its own particularities. French usually requires two spaces after a colon and English normally requires one. Some translation tools make it impossible to add the extra space during translation and it is annoying. Other tools preserve the English space between sentence when translating to Chinese and that's not correct, as Chinese requires no spaces at all.

Fonts are also a problem. If you translate a sentence written in Arial font to Arabic, you end with text that doesn't look right, as all characters must be ligated. Text font must be changed to something else, like Times for example.

Fonts are a particular problem for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Most western fonts do not include the glyphs for Asian text. And when you switch to a font that supports Chinese, you must adjust the font size to make it readable.

Kinsoku rules dictate how to arrange lines of text in Japanese. You don't use them in western languages, but must obey them in Japanese, even when layout changes. Good CAT tools must support them when segmenting text and this means that layout of translated Japanese text may differ from the original.

An important detail: text length varies with language. German sentences are longer than their English counterparts and this means that a German version of an English document may have more pages.

If you deal with legal papers, then you must consider the formats admitted in court in different countries. In Argentina legal text must always have the same layout, a special paper size with predefined margins. Courts only admit one font in a legal document, preferably Courier, and you must avoid bold and italics. Judges don't want a clever lawyer highlighting parts of a legal text; they want to read, analyse and rule without the interference of subtle remarks. In Uruguay things are different. legal papers can have any format. As there are no restrictions, attorneys do whatever they like regarding layout. I ignore if there are special rules in other countries, but I suspect that some may have their own.

To summarise: Do not attempt to always make original and translation look similar, accept the rules of the target language and country.

Regards,
Rodolfo






[Edited at 2005-10-09 17:51]


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 18:28
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Look at this. Oct 9, 2005

Here's a link with a quote from another source (which is actually stated, so you might look there), but the quote is not entirely what you're asking for:

The quote: "A translation should mirror the style of the SLT".

http://www.translatum.gr/journal/5/translatability-and-poetic-translation.htm

But I believe this is what you're after, since the 'layout' is not extremely important with regard to translation itself, if I understand the meaning of 'layout' correctly (set-up of pages, pictures, images, indents etc.).


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
It´s no theory Oct 10, 2005

Trying to match the layout is no theory, it is merely something that is done to serve the needs of the client. As others have pointed out sometimes differences between languages dictate certain changes in layout.

In my work I generally try to preserve the same layout as much as possible, which is not so difficult with English and Spanish except in the case of space parameters because Spanish often turns out to be longer than English.

But it all depends on what the client needs.


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Jan Born
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry... Oct 10, 2005

Rodolfo Raya wrote:

When you translate from English to German preserving layout could be good, but if you translate to Chinese, Japanese or Korean layout MUST change.

If you translate to Arabic, Hebrew or Urdu, layout must be reversed.




[Edited at 2005-10-09 17:51]


I realize that, of course. Maybe my question wasn't particularly well worded. I'm referring to English - German translation...

Take the example of a contract. I've often been told (both by teachers and clients) that a contract, for example, should look the same in both the English original and the German translation. Otherwise, misunderstandings could occur if the English party says "I don't like the clause on page 7" when the clause in question is actually on page 9 in the German translation.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:28
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Not correct Oct 10, 2005

Really the layout should be changed according to the cultural frame of the target. The normal practice of translating sentences seperately is not optimal. For different languages sentences should be combined or split or arranged otherwise. Text needs to be added or removed.
Most notable example is tourist information. For a optimal version even pictures should be changed according to the target audience. And whole pages should be removed sometimes. For example why include the program of Finnish theatres in brochures for foreigners, who do not understand Finnish and will not be buying tickets?
Koreans like dogmeat, but is it appropiate to advertise this to Western foreigners? The same applies to reindeer meat. American children would get sad when they read that we like reindeer meat and would maybe refuse to come to Lapland on holiday.

So this "rule" is not correct.

Regards

Heinrich


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 18:28
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
In that case, look at this... Oct 10, 2005

Jan Born wrote:

Take the example of a contract. I've often been told (both by teachers and clients) that a contract, for example, should look the same in both the English original and the German translation. Otherwise, misunderstandings could occur if the English party says "I don't like the clause on page 7" when the clause in question is actually on page 9 in the German translation.


Okay, I get it now. Here's a quote and a URL to look at, and perhaps you should try 'googling' for parts of your theory; that's what I did ;o)

"The translation should approximately follow the format and layout of the source
text."
Quote taken from this URL: http://www.nzsti.org/documents/TranslationGuidelines.pdf

Good luck with your project.


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 10:28
English
Whose layout? Oct 11, 2005

Jan Born wrote:

I'm working on a paper for my university course, and I'm looking for a quote from the relevant literature which backs my statement that "a translation should mirror the layout of the source text as closely as possible" - in particular with reference to legal texts.

Jan Born


I worked for the Attorney General's office for the state of Arizona (USA) ... the layout of a pleading, for example, varied depending on which court it was intended for. (each court had its own quirks)

In general, you need to have a layout that resembles the original because it helps the readers compare the translation iwth the original.

If you are translating a German case finding so that it can be used in an American legal pleading ... better make it fit the target format for that court.


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