Agencies: British English Preferred?
Thread poster: babylona

babylona
Local time: 17:45
Spanish to English
Jun 8, 2014

Hi,

I need to take a translation test with a US agency. However, I am not sure whether it is OK to use British English as it is a US agency. Surely, they accept both?

Can anyone offer some advice?

[Edited at 2014-06-09 23:26 GMT]


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DJHartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
You should check Jun 10, 2014

It really depends!

But as a rule, US English for USA, Canada and many Asian countries; British for European counties and former colonies.

It would really be best for you to check though. The client may get a surprise if they're not used to reading British English!


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:45
English to German
+ ...
Your own mother tongue, of course Jun 10, 2014

If you are a native speaker of British English, you write in BE. If you are a native speaker of American English, you write in AE.

Anything else would make as much sense as if I were trying to write in Swiss German all of the sudden, simply because some agency is located in Switzerland.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 00:45
Chinese to English
Ask, but adapting spelling is usually OK Jun 10, 2014

I do some work for US agencies, and I always make a point of telling them that I can only really write Brit English. They usually just ask me to correct the spellings to US style and avoid any obvious Briticisms. Their proofreaders will be able to handle any remaining dialect differences.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't waste your time Jun 10, 2014

Clearly you can only produce British English, and US agencies do have a need for that. I sometimes work for them "translating" from US to UK English.

But check what they want before spending time producing something they may reject simply because it doesn't conform to their expectations.

Phil's approach of using American spellings might well work in his scientific texts, but it certainly wouldn't work in marketing. The whole "flavo(u)r" would be wrong.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Indeed Jun 10, 2014

When I worked in-house, there were three English natives in the department, and for one client we regularly had jobs a British native would do for the UK, while our American colleague did them for the USA.

I remember one time he changed the two-word greeting to 'Happy Holidays', because we had settled for 'Merry Christmas'!

But usually there was far more in the text, and working with him was an eye-opener. We checked the terminology with him - he was the technical expert, and also knew whether there were differences between AE and BE, and when we should stay consistent with his lead.

On the other hand, sometimes agencies in the USA are actually looking for a British native. I always point out that I am not American, and have occasionally been told 'that is precisely why we're asking you.'


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DJHartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
So what about us Aussies/New Zealanders and other natives from elsewhere? Jun 10, 2014

I can see you points of working in BE if you're from UK and AE if your a native of America, but speaking from my own experience, Australians are brought up knowing both and understanding the differences between them and our own form of the language. I would argue that most Aussie and Kiwi translators would have equal levels of ease translating into either AE or BE with native proficiency.

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:45
Member (2008)
French to English
American English for Americans Jun 10, 2014

I have yet to meet a US agency that will accept BE when the end client is American. Many BE spellings and idioms are considered simply wrong in the US. All I have encountered are quite firm that they want AE. Being a Canadian, I have to work in the middle (CE is not quite either), be aware of the client's needs and adapt accordingly.

[Edited at 2014-06-10 12:38 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Yes, Canadian is different again Jun 10, 2014

John Fossey wrote:
Being a Canadian, I have to work in the middle (CE is not quite either)

I'm often asked to evaluate either translations or monolingual English texts (e.g. for TWB) and I have to be careful to consider whether it might have been written by a Canadian. But I believe spellings are almost always British, whereas terms are more often than not American (truck, movies, downtown etc). Is that about right as a rough guide?


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