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Off topic: What is the most interesting thing you have ever translated?
Thread poster:
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:55
Feb 7, 2010

Hi all,

I was just thinking... The documents which translators translate can vary enormously - sometimes they can be boring, but sometimes extremely interesting. Translators often pick up knowledge on a wide range of subjects and learn about subjects they never knew anything about.

So that set me wondering - what is the most interesting thing YOU have ever translated?



patyjs  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Most are interesting Feb 7, 2010

in some way. I'm a generalist so I get to work on all kinds of subjects. Some fields have become "specialties" simply because of the sheer volume of work I've done in them. Interest wise, I think NGOs often provide stuff worth reading whether it's for translation or not.

But the one job that really stands out is one I had last year. I was asked to translate the video of a speaker at a pro-life conference. She (the speaker) was an abortion survivor. That is, she was the baby! Whatever your views on the subject matter, it was mind boggling!


Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:55
English to Slovak
+ ...
Care proceedings case Feb 7, 2010

I've been working on for over 18 months now. Very interesting insight onto life of one family. Very sad.


PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:25
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Few interesting tasks Feb 7, 2010

I have handled several interesting tasks while working as a freelance translator:

Few months back, from an outsourcer, I got a task to translate around 2 minutes of so-called Nepali folklore. I accepted it as I thought it would be an easy task for me. But do you know...

1. The audio quality of the provided audio was really poor as it belonged to 1950's and was sung by a group of men in some remote areas of Nepal.
2. I had to listen to that audio tons of times to understand and write each word, before I could even start translation.

But, it was something different, interesting and a bit difficult task than I usually do. However, most Nepali translation jobs are interesting.


I got a task from a US based scholar to translate Karna Parva of Mahabharata from Sanskrit-English. As he was scholar, I felt it necessary to provide him translations with grammatical analysis.

I translated the stuffs as per my understanding. Bought some worthwhile Mahabharata epic from market, read the other interpretations and included them in the translation.

I included grammatical analysis with Shabd Roop, Dhatoo Roop etc. Sanskrit grammar stuffs.

At the end, the effort was appreciated by the scholar.

Because of the complications involved, Sanskrit translations are pretty much challenging for me as they consume a lot of time, to be brought near to perfection or satisfaction. I do not accept them readily. Have to think twice/thrice to accept any of them after calculation of time required. Interestingly, I got a task from Kali-mata devotee, who is curious to gain knowledge and has not bounded with a specific deadlline. I am loving to do his task as I can do all homeworks before translations. I have already submitted 2 lots out of total 3.

And, I love doing Sanskrit translations.


I translated an English poem to Hindi recently and it was appreciated by the client. I loved translating it too. Literature is my field of interest since many years.


The most boring translations are


The only interesting fact in technical translations is, each time, I have to use wikipedia and other stuffs numerous times and gain a lot of information and knowledge regarding same. I learnt a lot about software, hardware, e-com while doing translations as I never translate without understanding the original context.icon_smile.gif


[Edited at 2010-02-07 19:49 GMT]


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A long text about immunology Feb 7, 2010

I learned a lot and it helped me see how complex a tiny part of us (the cell) can be. Amazing! I wonder whether each of us is just a big colony of cells making us act for the best and longest life. We could perfectly be serving our cells, instead of our cells serving us.


lcstranslations  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
Member (2010)
Italian to English
naughty letter Feb 7, 2010

I translated a very naughty letter, and also with suggestions

was a howl


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:55
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
errant husband Feb 7, 2010

A series of emails, over several months, which a wife had discovered on her husband's computer, of correspondence between him and another woman.


sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:55
English to Russian
+ ...
The movie "W" about George W. Bush Feb 8, 2010

by Oliver Stone. Josh Brolin was so good that I almost changed my opinion about the village idiot. The best part was finding Russian equivalents to a couple of "bushisms".


David Eunice  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:55
Japanese to English
Better than an MBA Feb 8, 2010

Materials that taught me that product development
is about much more than the ostensible use value
of the product.

The products in question were for killing bugs.
The differentiation point was to make the products
more entertaining for the consumer to use.

Since the chemicals and mode of delivery were
essentially the same as the previous product,
the interesting thing was how intangible value was
considered at every stage of product design.

The consumer would feel more clever than the cockroach.
More cunning than the fly.
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:55
variety Feb 8, 2010

@sokolniki: Wow, did you translate the whole script? Was it hard to 'tailor' the translation to suit the personality of the characters? How long did it take?

I think that's one of the things that can enrich the life of a translator - the fact that documents can vary so widely and that sometimes you can get an unexpected gem.

I remember once translating an analysis of the flora and fauna of the sea floor around Monaco. That was really interesting - lots of images of fish and rocks being conjured up in my mind.

Has anyone got any more?


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
Spanish to English
I like environmental stuff Feb 8, 2010

I'm not an environmental campaigner but having had to translate all the terms for the different industrial pollutants that are in the water and "by accident" read a bit about their side-effects, I feel my whole concept of the world we live in has changed. On top of that I had to translate a patent for a foodstuff and that really brought it home to me how many chemicals we are ingesting every day, despite ourselves.


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
German to English
+ ...
A real-life spy story Feb 8, 2010

Back in the 1990s after German reunification, I got to translate an enormous chunk from a court document which described how agents from East Germany had set up sham companies in the west during the GDR period, and had then tried to claim that these companies were their own personal property after the Communist system crumbled.

It was all in there - clandestine meetings, references to GDR public figures who were still regularly featured in newspapers and TV. Wonderful cloak-and-dagger stuff - almost as exciting as some of the Cold War novels by Le Carré and others.


Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:55
Member (2007)
English to French
Two recent tourism websites Feb 8, 2010

Recently I translated a website for a "Manoir" situated in the south of France... the text was wonderfully well written and the place beautiful...

I am currently translating another similar website, this time for a château in western France... the text is great and doing justice to the place which is gorgeous.

It is definitely changing my scenery from my small house in the Midlands...

Generally speaking, anything well written in the source language is interesting for me. It gives me a special kick to find the very best phrases in the target language.



John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Car insurance report Feb 8, 2010

Last year I bought a new car and by chance I was asked to translate an in-depth analysis of the Spanish insurance industry a week before the car was delivered. The report was prepared for a British insurance company and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the main Spanish companies and the nature of Spanish insurance contracts.

I confess to ruthlessly using the insights I gained when I started shopping around for an insurance policy. Later, when my wife suffered a serious collision in the car, I used the same insights to negotiate a better and quicker settlement with the insurer.


Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
well written source Feb 8, 2010

Excellent point, Carole.

I quite agree that translating almost anything that is very well written is a pleasure, and worthwhile thinking round a phrase to make it "work" in your own language.
In contrast, translating badly written things can be a real bore (I end up thinking, how on earth can anyone write THAT??? don't people notice when their sentences don't make sense, or when they repeat a word 2 or even 3 times within a phrase?)

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