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Off topic: The Little Translator panics
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:09
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 27, 2007

The Little Translator made his way into the city centre and went into a rather upmarket café there, the Wordtown Waldorf.

“White coffee, but just a spot of lukewarm milk, barman”, he said to the waiter, placing his big envelope on the counter and fishing out the pages inside.

“What’s that?” asked the waiter.

“That? “It’s a translation tes- …” The Little Translator’s chest puffed out a little. He patted the pages a little for effect. “Oh”, he said, in a tone which he hoped was a sufficient cross between blasé and lofty, “that’s a French technical translation I’ve been commissioned to do. Very technical, in fact, yes. Some rather topic-specific vocabulary, I shouldn’t wonder. Just going to give it the once-over with a coffee here, get my ideas in order, if you will, take a decision as to a linguistic strategy.”

The waiter stared at him. “No, I didn’t hear what you said, that’s all. What was it you wanted?”

“Oh”, said the Little Translator, deflating considerably. “It was, erm, a white coffee. Yes, er, thank you, thanks ever so much …”

He walked over to a corner with his coffee - or skulked over, rather - and had a look at the text.

The first thing he noticed was the date at the top. He glanced at his watch. “The sixteenth. But … that’s today ... well, maybe the man from Translations Anytime added that in as the date for my test.”

As far as he could see, the text was littered with strange abbreviations and acronyms … Fmax, MO, HT, RCS … and others, and … some of the sentences didn’t even seem to have any VERBS;
“Si possible BT TTC, v. MO pour m/place, controle 24/7 …”, read the Little Translator, screwing up his eyes. And there even seemed to be MISTAKES there, too. “That’s odd - surely that “controle” there should have a circumflex on the o”, he thought to himself. “And what’s all this “m/place MO” stuff? …. well, perhaps I’ll come back to that bit.”

The Little Translator read on: “Selon AGA du 7 fevrier 99, CA s’eleve à 500.000 Mds de €, Res. Ord. légère baisse …..” … “All the accents missing here too, but that’s not why I don’t understand it. Mds? CA? Res. Ord.? Er, maybe I’ll come back to that bit too”, he thought, worryingly mystified, and read on.

And on.

And on.

And on. After five minutes reading, he was on page 7 of 12.

By this time the Little Translator was beginning to feel a horrid kind of Frightening Fear taking over his body. Yes, he could feel the cold hand of Fear clutching his stomach.

Or perhaps a bit below his stomach. He was beginning to sweat copiously, too.

“I really don’t have a clue what they’re talking about here”, he quavered to himself, reaching under his shirt and wiping the streams of sweat from his chest. “It’s in French all right, but it’s like a different language or something.”

The Little Translator read a few more pages, and laid the pages down on the table. He stared at the text, and found himself uttering that very human of phrases to himself: “I don’t know what I’m going to do …”

He had never had Translation Fear before. Professor Brookesduddy had never mentioned it.

....


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Fairy godmother Jul 27, 2007

Feeling faint, Little Translator reached for his coffee - but in the swirl of steam, something was materialsing.
It took the form of a kindly woman wearing a pink spangled ballgown and tiara and carrying a sequinned laptop.
"I am your fairy godmother, Little Translator" she beamed. "Don't worry. It's simple, just do what I say".

To be continued.

Love,
Jenny.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:09
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never fear Little Translator ... Jul 27, 2007

... after all, Kudoz is just a click away. Or didn't Professor Brooksduddy mention that either?

Just make sure you take out site membership first, so you can ask the full quota of questions a day.

There are plenty in your boat doing the same thing and they've been Big Translators for years


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 05:09
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
mistakes Jul 27, 2007

I feel identified with the mistakes in the source text. Grammar, punctuation, etc. that gives you a BIG headache considering that we translate many important manuals for complex machinery and safety guides in the oil & gas field. If the instructions are not clear in the source text it can be a matter of life or death for the employees.

It's essential to have a good communication with the client and always ask your doubts

Considering difficult terms: Kudoz, the best!

Wonderful episode Mervyn!

Letty

[Edited at 2007-07-27 13:28]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
been there done that ..........! Jul 27, 2007

Can't wait to see how LT faces into this dilemma ...poor lil fella (or lassie?)


[Edited at 2007-07-27 14:26]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:09
Italian to English
+ ...
Oh, haven't I been there... Jul 27, 2007

Poor little translator!

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:09
Italian to English
+ ...
Fairy Godmother Jul 27, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:

Feeling faint, Little Translator reached for his coffee - but in the swirl of steam, something was materialsing.
It took the form of a kindly woman wearing a pink spangled ballgown and tiara and carrying a sequinned laptop.
"I am your fairy godmother, Little Translator" she beamed. "Don't worry. It's simple, just do what I say".

To be continued.

Love,
Jenny.



We should be so lucky


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
About Professor Brookesduddy... Jul 27, 2007

I say, if Little Translator gets past this "minor" test, he should send a request to his university to have Professor Brookesduddy fired... Some "teacher"...

How come Professor Brookesduddy didn't teach Little Translator the *facts* of Translator Life?

He probably didn't even teach him how to type or use Office, Catalyst, Trados, Wordfast, Deja Vu, InDesign, Framemaker, Dragon Naturally Speaking, DOS, Windows, Mac, etc. etc....

Not to mention the Internet, of course, and especially Proz.com...



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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:09
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Here's a thought... Jul 27, 2007

ICL wrote:

I say, if Little Translator gets past this "minor" test, he should send a request to his university to have Professor Brookesduddy fired... Some "teacher"...

How come Professor Brookesduddy didn't teach Little Translator the *facts* of Translator Life?

He probably didn't even teach him how to type or use Office, Catalyst, Trados, Wordfast, Deja Vu, InDesign, Framemaker, Dragon Naturally Speaking, DOS, Windows, Mac, etc. etc....

Not to mention the Internet, of course, and especially Proz.com...



Maybe Prof. Brookesduddy is in cahoots with the sleazebag at the translation company!

Amy


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Anne Goff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:09
French to English
+ ...
VERBS Jul 27, 2007

"some of the sentences didn't even seem to have any VERBS..."

How true! Why do so many French sentences lack this crucial component?

Courage Petit Traducteur!

Good story, keep them coming!


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Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:09
Member (2003)
English to German
Absolutely wonderful Jul 28, 2007

Hi Mervyn,

I congratulate you on the idea of the Little Translator, and also on your writing - both are absolutely wonderful. I'd love to read a whole book on the guy!

Marion


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
@ Amy Jul 28, 2007

Amy Duncan wrote:

Maybe Prof. Brookesduddy is in cahoots with the sleazebag at the translation company!

Amy


That makes awful sense, Amy!!

If Prof. Brookesduddy and the sleazebag at the translation company are splitting the (already originally split) translation rates for every clueless rookie Prof. Brookesduddy gets as a translator for the agency, that would explain a lot of things about Prof. Brookesduddy:

a) The extra cash he keeps in a secret bank account in Switzerland.

b) The fact that, although he has tenure, he "teaches" a lot less hours per week than his other colleagues at the faculty.

c) The fact that he can afford expensive Cuban cigars, Iranian caviar and sophisticated Jean-Paul Gaultier leather S/M lingerie.

d) His secret dealings with the Sopranos.

Why didn't I realize this before?



P.S.: just realized I had misspelled "rooky"; should be "rookie".

[Edited at 2007-07-28 13:48]


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mariana24  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 05:09
Spanish
+ ...
Common sense Jul 28, 2007

I loved Mervyn's story and I think he has hit a quite sensitive nail and that is why we want to hear more about Little Tranlator.

Now I wonder...even with the appearance of the fairy godmother and her sequinned laptop (I liked that too much!) and all the magic and wonderful thoughts that cross our minds to unrealistically solve the problem (in our minds also, magic is only there), wouldn't it be more practical, realistic and propably the answer to of LT fears if he/she just went back to the person who provided this test (A 12 page test?????) and asked for proper language? I mean, if this is the test, first, the least they could do is pay it i-if it's 12 pages long- and after that, is Little Translator a wizard also, who is able to do magic and translate what he/she cannot understand in the source language to start with? Not fair. And if the client is going to be like this in case he/she passes the test, I don't envisage too much happiness in this work relationship. What can LT expect from real projects from this client?

Mervyn, again, I love your story and the sequels, and would also like a full story on Little Translator's ups and downs. I only feel for him/her and in this part of the story would like him/her to go back and say "let's talk".

Apart from that...give us more, all!


Mariana


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Giuliana d'Orazi Flavoni
Italy
Local time: 10:09
Italian to English
Hurrah! Jul 28, 2007

for LT

Nobody brightens up my day quite like he does!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 03:09
English to Russian
+ ...
Thank you, Mervyn Jul 28, 2007

Please keep it coming:-).

You are very generous posting it in an open forum:-) When you decide to turn in into a book we'll all bear witness that this is YOUR copyright!

Irene


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