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Two-way translation
Thread poster: Cordial
Cordial
Local time: 08:56
French to English
May 18, 2006

I was told by a mentor to choose between french-english and english-french.

Can I not work both ways? Is it a common practice to choose one language?

It seems the possibilities are greater working both ways, what do you think?

Robert


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 07:56
agree with mentor May 18, 2006

Not unless you're 110% fluent and even then.

It is normal practise to translate into your native language only. I would agree with your mentor here.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
French to English
+ ...
what is your native language? May 18, 2006

If you have a full command of both languages to native level (which is a very rare skill, and usually involves having learnt both languages as a small child - and even then, most bilingual people have a dominant language) then it you could translate both ways.

Otherwise you should always translate into your native language. Most translators' associations have this written into their Codes of Conduct.

For some language pairs there is a shortage of translators in one direction, in which case some translators will end up translating both ways. This is honourable IMO but would pretty much never be necessary for the English-French pair, as there are plenty of people translating in each direction.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Agree with Angela May 18, 2006

Angela Dickson summmarises the situation very neatly -- with the rare exceptions she mentions, translation should always be into your dominant language.

Sometimes this causes semantic difficulties. I was brought up bilingually, learning my source language from my mother, in my mother tongue (native) country, and my target language from my father. But there is no doubt that my target language is now dominant. Therefore my "mother tongue" is actually my father tongue, and my "native language" is not really my native language.

So I translate in one direction only -- from my weaker language to my dominant language -- or "language of habitual usage". The more translation I do, the more obvious it becomes that it is the right decision.



[Edited at 2006-05-18 13:18]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Flemish to English
+ ...
The first mantra of translation. May 18, 2006

The "First Mantra of Translation", which is mainly sung by native speakers of English is: "Thou shalt translate into thy native language only".
Father forgive me for I have sinned many times against that first commandment and I will sin against it until I retire.
I have translated into French, Spanish and English and I have even translated between two languages of which I am not a native speaker (German>English).
The client had that translation reviewed by a native speaker and found it to be acceptable.

In fact what those preachers of that mantra are saying is "Stick to your guns" and "Stay off my turf".

In adhering to this mantra you don't actively practise your other language and in fact, you even forget vocabulary...

To the adherents of a Master in Translation being a conditio sine qua non to be able to translate fluently, you will never obtain that master if you don't translate both ways.



[Edited at 2006-05-18 13:41]


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Agree with your mentor May 18, 2006

Dear Cordial,

I agree with your mentor. I looked at your profile and there are some minor errors in the English that a native speaker would not make. I think you would save yourself a lot of grief by concentrating on your "core strengths."

We have all seen menus, texts, you-name-it - with errors, because the translator was not a native speaker.

It is a question of quality. And in your pair, there is enough work to focus on French and be an expert in that language, rather than a "jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none".

Good Luck
Linda

[Edited at 2006-05-18 14:38]


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
French to English
+ ...
No May 18, 2006

In fact what those preachers of that mantra are saying is "Stick to your guns" and "Stay off my turf".


In fact, I am saying nothing of the kind. I am not worried about competition from those who are not native speakers of my target language. We don't know what the asker's native language(s) is (are), so no-one is saying anything about their abilities.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:56
German to English
+ ...
Two-way translation May 18, 2006

Williamson wrote:

In fact what those preachers of that mantra are saying is "Stick to your guns" and "Stay off my turf".


Hardly. Perhaps you meant to say "Stick to your knitting"?

Marc


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:56
From the monetary point of view... May 18, 2006

Colleagues have already presented the two main sides of the argument. I only want to add that, from the monetary point of view, it might not be worthwhile to translate "both ways" unless, as it was said before, you are 100% fluent both in your strong and weak languages.

In my case, I traslate from English and French into Spanish. I could translate from Spanish into English, but the whole process takes me almost double the time than what it takes me to do it into Spanish. Revisions have to be much more detailed; lots of doubts arise, until I finally realize that I could have translated a thousand words to Spanish in the time it took me to translate 500 words into English, so from the monetary point of view, it is not profitable for me to do it both ways.

Yes, I have heard the argument that the more I do it, the better and faster I will get at it, but I prefer to apply myself to become specialized in certain fields in my strong language, than to be able to translate into two or three languages. Why? Business logic points that way.


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Cordial
Local time: 08:56
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 18, 2006

Thanks to all. I must say I am fluent in both languages, having mostly lived in France with an English mother.

My mother tongue is French, but it has never been my target language.
Moreover, I always read in English, and have been writing in English (University) for the last few years. That is the reason I favor the Anglo-saxon tongue. Basically, it is easier for me to translate into English.

However, I can charge more if I translate into French, which explains my query.

Thanks again, and 'bon courage'!


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Sylvain Leray  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:56
Member (2003)
German to French
Two-way translation May 18, 2006

Williamson wrote:

In adhering to this mantra you don't actively practise your other language and in fact, you even forget vocabulary...

To the adherents of a Master in Translation being a conditio sine qua non to be able to translate fluently, you will never obtain that master if you don't translate both ways.



[Edited at 2006-05-18 13:41]


I must strongly disagree here.

Do you translate to train your language skills ???

I translate because I already have language skills, and not to practise them. I speak German fluently, but I will never translate into German. One have to train his language skills everyday in his personnal environment, but not by translating in a professional context!

And translating between two foreign languages is for me an evident lack of professional ethics, nothing less.

Sylvain

[Edited at 2006-05-18 15:17]


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alina_p
Local time: 09:56
English to Romanian
+ ...
Another point of view... May 18, 2006

I am a native Romanian speaker, thus one of those who HAVE to go both ways... Not too many native English speakers translating from Romanian, and someone has to do it In addition, given the fact that Romanians usually work for much less than foreigners, clients prefer to pay less and let a non-native do the job, than pay many times more for a minor difference in quality.

While I am well aware that my English is far from perfect, I don't hesitate to accept when asked to do a Romanian -> English job. Doesn't take me longer to do it than an English -> Romanian one, however English words are so much shorter, and I am paid by the character, so in a sense I get less).

However I do limit the fields for these jobs in which the target is not my native language. Sure, I accept contracts, because there are so many samples online, and once you get accustomed to the terminology, they're all pretty much similar. This is true when it comes to things like Financial Statements as well - not much room for maneuver in your choice of wording.

I would never accept anything more artistic, literature or anything like this, but in this context, if you manage to stay on the beaten track in familiar fields, I think you can safely go for translations into a language other than your native one.

Oh, and one more thing... at times I find it so much more difficult to translate into Romanian than into English because there is no corresponding Romanian word for the English one... Takes me a lot of time to find a proper phrase with a similar meaning. This seldom happens the other way around... But then again, if I get stuck, there's always good old KudoZ, may it be blessed

Best regards,
Alina


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Flemish to English
+ ...
Tend to your own knittings? May 18, 2006

Oeps, a tongue-twister or should I say "a slip of the tongue" : It should be "stay off my turf" and "tend to your own knittings" AND "I'll stick to my guns".

By the way, being a non-native, unaware of the intricasies of English, I was wondering what is meant by "the" English" that a native speaker would not make .
Did you mean "The English in your profile?"

Pardon the ignorance of a non-native speaker, but in English isn't the definite article used before singular and plural nouns" when the noun is particular or specific"
--> what is so specific about "the"English?
Would it be possible to specify?
What is a "traslator"??? Is that a new kind of profession?
-
It has to be : "one has to", not one "have to".

Sans doute vous saviez déjà que l'anglais n'est pas le français?

Wenn ich es nicht wage ins Deutsche zu übersetzen, ist es weil ich die Deklination in dieser Sprache nicht genügend beherrsche, aber dies schließt auf keinen Fall eine Zusammenarbeit aus mit einem Düsseldorfer Muttersprachler, der außerdem ausgezeichnet Japanisch spricht und gut bekannt ist in die lokale Japanische Gemeinschaft.

La misma cosa vale en cuanto a la traducción al castellano. No es porque no es mi lengua materna que no puedo traducir un texto al español y enviar el texto traducido a América del Sur o a Castilla para que un hispanohablante lo corrija.
---
What if that environment is Brussels and for business purposes England.
How far is it from the Brussels suburbs to say Eupen or Aachen? How far is it from Brussels to London ?
Combien de kilomètres dois-je rouler en voiture pour rencontrer un francophone?

Did you ever take the Brussels "metro" from say "Erasmus" to '"Alma". Open your ears and how many languages will you hear? Dutch, French, Moroccan Arabic, English, German, and all the other E.U.-languages as you approach the Schuman underground railway station.

If I compare your point of view to other disciplines, I should stop learning (and getting paid for it) when I have reached the first tier of ITC:
I have learned how to build a pc, how to put together a small network, but I should not continue to learn how to build and manage a server park. I have learned MsOffice thoroughly (upto the ECDL-level), but I should not learn how to programme in Visual Basic (for Excel or Access) or learn how to use ERP-packages.
Or compared with math, once you know basic math, you should not learn calculus, advanced calculus...
--
A sound business-sense dictates "output-maximalisation" and "risk-minimalisation", which can only be achieved if you make extensive use of MT,CAT, voice-recognition, electronic dictionaries, translation-management and people, who live in another time-zone and review texts translated into their mother-tongue.

Live and let live and let the customer be the final judge of professional ethics.






[Edited at 2006-05-19 08:51]


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Cordial
Local time: 08:56
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again May 19, 2006

Thank you very much for all your answers, although there appears to be a schism in the world of translation.

I understand why the target language is usually the mother tongue, but I tend to agree with Mr Williamson, who feels we should develop translation skills, especially when you are naturally fluent in both languages.

Robert


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Cordial
Local time: 08:56
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Actually... May 19, 2006

Linda wrote:

Dear Cordial,

I agree with your mentor. I looked at your profile and there are some minor errors in the English that a native speaker would not make. I think you would save yourself a lot of grief by concentrating on your "core strengths."

We have all seen menus, texts, you-name-it - with errors, because the translator was not a native speaker.

It is a question of quality. And in your pair, there is enough work to focus on French and be an expert in that language, rather than a "jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none".

Good Luck
Linda

[Edited at 2006-05-18 14:38]



Actually Linda,

my written english is quite acceptable once you get to know me. I spent 13 years in the Lycée International in the Paris region, then 3 years reading sociology and writing in the language of Shakespeare quite intensely.

Ask L'Oréal, Chanel and HP if my English is under par, believe me, they won't settle for anything less.

Ask my British mother, you should hear her Queen's English accent!
To be honest, I think I made a hash of the 'profile' thing, I only visited this website for the information it provides.
And Linda, you'll find there is a typo in your profile, so don't jump to conclusions.

Best regards,

Robert


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