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CONTEXT AGAIN
Thread poster: Henry Hinds

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 16, 2015

It is apparent that many people posting questions on Proz have very little knowledge of what CONTEXT is and what information it should contain. However, it is something vitally important for a translator to know in order to be professional. Thus it would seem important for Proz to offer training or seminars for participants on CONTEXT.

What is the opinion of others on this?


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KirstenL
Norway
Spanish to Danish
+ ...
No context, no answers. Jul 16, 2015

I think that the first step could be that we all demand a certain context and don't start guessing what it's all about.

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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Training or seminar? Jul 16, 2015

In my opinion, offering trainings or seminars may be a bit over the top in most cases.

I sometimes provide askers who stubbornly insist that there is no context with a link to the relevant section in the proz faqs: http://www.proz.com/faq/70204#70204. This should do the trick in most cases.



[Bearbeitet am 2015-07-16 07:34 GMT]


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:22
Italian to English
Jul 16, 2015



[Edited at 2015-07-16 14:03 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Self-governing Jul 16, 2015

There's normally someone on hand to tick these scoundrels off

[Edited at 2015-07-16 08:29 GMT]


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
There's always context Jul 16, 2015

Fiona Peterson wrote:


At other times, there may not BE any context!



I disagree - there always is context.

And if there isn't, it really doesn't matter which translation you chose, as there will be no context in the target language either (and thus any translation will be equally right or wrong).


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 14:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
There is always some context Jul 16, 2015

Fiona Peterson wrote:

At other times, there may not BE any context! But that's impossible to know, unless the asker specifically says so.



There is always context - a ST has who, what, where, when, why. Even if there's no ST and the term came to the asker in a vision, that's context.

And, to quote Margaret Atwood, context is all!


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George Hopkins
Local time: 15:22
Swedish to English
Question first and foremost Jul 16, 2015

No problem...
The Asker decides whether or not to include context (always welcome).
The prospective Answerer decides whether or not to respond.
The Asker decides, right or wrong, to choose or ignore an answer.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Contextualise this Jul 16, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:

I disagree - there always is context.

And if there isn't, it really doesn't matter which translation you chose, as there will be no context in the target language either (and thus any translation will be equally right or wrong).



Au contraire. There isn't always context. I have one client who has an online system for translation of software strings, where items frequently appear with no context or apparent rhyme or reason. The system includes a function whereby these items may be "contextualised", where basically I can post a query along the lines of " what does X mean in this context, or in this specific case", and if I'm lucky, they might know the answer and supply it.
For example, a couple of weeks ago they sent me a chunk of text and one of the strings to be translated was the single (uncapitalised) word "contables", which in Spanish can mean "accountants" (n) or countable (adj). Having posted the query and asked around my contacts in the company, I am (we are) still none the wiser. Nobody seemed to know what it referred to, so eventually they sent me the same batch of strings again with the offending item removed, which I found rather amusing...

PS: I'm assuming (or hoping) that "it really doesn't matter which translation you chose" was a joke.

[Edited at 2015-07-16 09:35 GMT]


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
No joke Jul 16, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Au contraire. There isn't always context. I have one client who has an online system for translation of software strings, where items frequently appear with no context or apparent rhyme or reason. The system includes a function whereby these items may be "contextualised", where basically I can post a query along the lines of " what does X mean in this context, or in this specific case", and if I'm lucky, they might know the answer and supply it.


So there is context, after all.

neilmac wrote:
PS: I'm assuming (or hoping) that "it really doesn't matter which translation you chose" was a joke.


No joke, just an argument: If there really is absolutely no context (and I reiterate my opinion that this case does not exist), there simply is no way of deciding which translation fits. A professional reaction would be to tell the client (or the Kudoz asker) that it is impossible to offer a single correct translation without more context. A slightly less professional and tongue-in-cheek response would be to suggest choosing any dictionary translation at random. Without any context, nobody will be able to prove you wrong (trivial cases aside) Of course, I'll never actually use the second option in a business scenario.



[Bearbeitet am 2015-07-16 09:47 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" Jul 16, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:


So there is context, after all.


Not really. If you can consider almost total absence of any useful context to be context per se, then feel free, although I'll still consider it sophistry.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
No sophistry Jul 16, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Erik Freitag wrote:


So there is context, after all.


Not really. If you can consider almost total absence of any useful context to be context per se, then feel free, although I'll still consider it sophistry.



As I said - if you or your client really can't produce any context at all, it gets very simple: You can stop thinking and just say "I don't (and can't) know how to translate this".

In my experience, in 99,9% of all cases where a Kudoz asker insists that there is absolutely no context, useful context will eventually appear when I keep asking long enough. It's usually not lack of context, but lack of knowledge about what context is.

[Bearbeitet am 2015-07-16 11:47 GMT]


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
No context means or should mean these words only on an otherwise blank document Jul 16, 2015

If an asker states 'there is no context', then that should mean that 'My job consists in translating the words posted and nothing else'. If that's not the case, then no context either means asker is totally clueless or is playing a game of 'for me to know and for you to find out'.
I agree that the cry of no context or no other context is annoying to anyone interested in helping but askers should realise it puts them in a bad light, professionally speaking and makes them look suspiciously incompetent.


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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Don't confuse "There is no context" with "I don't know the context" Jul 16, 2015

I am 100% with Erik and his There is always context stance.

What people usually mean when they say "There is no context" is actually "I don't know the context". But there will always be someone who does know why they requested this term to be translated and what they need it for. If that context is not forthcoming then the translator's (and the project manager's) job is to ask for it.

Asking for help with the translation of a term without knowing the context is a bit like asking for directions without knowing where you want to go. You can still ask for directions but you won't get a sensible answer unless you specify where you want to go.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 19:52
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
neilmac and Erik are both right in their own way Jul 16, 2015

What happens often is that the akser considers some bit of information that he has as too insignificant to mention, but if that information is provided, then it becomes all the more easier for the answerers to figure out what the term in question means.

So we have a "no context" situation as well as "there is context" situation. It is all a matter of perception.

As a rule, askers should provide as much detail about the term they want help in their question, as every bit of information, even those which they consider as insignificant, can help answerers to provide a suitable answer.

Even such apparently insignificant bits of information like where the term occurs (in a letter, in a TV dialogue, in a report, etc.), what comes before or after it (if anything does), what the subject area is (same words can have different meanings in different subject areas), who is saying it to whom, etc., etc., should be mentioned.


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