Off topic: Editing quotes
Thread poster: Olly Pekelharing

Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:37
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
Nov 15, 2011

What do you do when faced with a book you're supposed to edit full of quotes uttered by non-native, poor speakers of the language to journalists who are also non-native and poor speakers of the language they are writing in and who moreover obviously couldn't read their own shorthand afterwards so that the result is bordering on gobbledygook? Commit suicide?

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:37
German to Serbian
+ ...
Talk to your client Nov 15, 2011

And tell them what a gray zone you are entering when altering other people's quotes, which should be cited word for word.

 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 15:37
German to English
+ ...
Suicide is a little extreme Nov 15, 2011

and I tend to save it for cases like yours where in addition the client doesn't speak a language I understand. As this has not yet happened, I have not yet had to resort to this rather terminal approach to customer relations.;-)

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:37
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If viable, consider changing the structure of the book... Nov 15, 2011

...so that as many of the direct quotes as possible are replaced by paraphrasing. This leaves you less susceptible to charges of misrepresentation and overly creative translating.

Yet another option would simply be to back out gracefully from a project that sounds like a thoroughly thankless task.


 

Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:37
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
TOPIC STARTER
Lighter side Nov 15, 2011

I put this in the 'lighter side' because it's not quite as bad as it sounds, and I've nearly finished it (before people kindly start offering me professional advice). Although the characters in this drama are really non-native, poor speakers of the target language (yes, there's a source language too, but that's another story), the subject matter was also so simple and mundane that it wasn't hard to decipher what the interviewee meant and what the journalist thought he meant, and the resultant translation-cum-edited work really isn't important enough to lose any sleep over. Just wanted a little grumble.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:37
German to Serbian
+ ...
Fiction, seriously? Nov 15, 2011

You didn't even tell us it was a drama/fiction book with nonnative characters, which changes the background altogether. Basically, you failed to point the key facts. If you wanted us to laugh, again, the key facts were missing.

 

Wolfgang Vogt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:37
English to German
+ ...
- Nov 15, 2011

Hey, that sounds a bit like those crime-prevention days at school...

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:37
German to English
"Drama" with non-natives takes a surprising turn Nov 15, 2011

Hello Olly,

In the spirit of your original post: 1. Charge for the quotes, 2. Don't change them because they are quotes, 3. Use this extra time and money to purchase and consume liquor to drown your sorrows (far superior to suicide).

NOT(!) sincerely,
Michael

P.S.: That said, Robert's suggestion is interesting (even if it is not on the "lighter side") and had never occured to me in such a strong form. Still, the danger of misrepresenting someone's (already obscure) statements remains - regardless of whether they are paraphrased or quoted.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 07:37
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sic Nov 15, 2011

Whatever you do, please don't say "sic" with every quote as if the readers can't figure that out for themselves - that makes me "sick".

 


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