Examples of Mistranslations
Thread poster: Lexi-tech

Lexi-tech  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:53
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 17, 2006

Good evening,

Last week I posted a forum ("The power of unlocking the context" in the Technical Forums), but unfortunately nobody added any comment.

After re-reading my message, I've to admit that it was not that clear. I still need your help. Right now, I am looking for examples of mistranslations mainly due to the loss of context. As you all know, it is impossible to translate regardless of the context or culture involved. That's what I'm trying to prove in my presentation. I've a long list of translation mistakes from EN-IT, but I need some EN-FR.

I’ve a couple of examples (Search a database = “rechercher une base de données” instead of “faire des recherches dans une base de données”), but they are all pertinent to localization, where very often the context is missing. However, I don’t necessarily need only localization mistakes, they can apply to any kind of translations.

Would you like you share some “perles de traduction” with me?

It's time to go to bed. Sogni d'oro a tutti/e

Vale


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 19:53
German to English
+ ...
... Mar 17, 2006

5 minutes on Kudoz will throw up plenty of mistranslations

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:53
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Or look at this: Mar 17, 2006

http://www.proz.com/translation-jobs/101366

As a sample translation a sentence, which cannot be translated into good Finnish, because the sentence has to express, what needs to be downloaded (and to whom the sample should be sent).


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 16:53
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
push button Mar 17, 2006

Without context, how do you know if they ask you to push a button or they are refering to the whole thing?

It happened to me. I was given a long list of unrelated sentences, without a reference file. I still don't know if I translated correctly or not,

Regards

Clarisa


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xxxMurielP  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:53
French to English
+ ...
Try google... Mar 17, 2006

Paola,

If you type in "perles de traduction" or even "english to french mistranslations", you will get numerous hits!!

I have just spent 10 minutes laughing... thank you for giving me the opportunity of getting some light relief (just finished a difficult translation).

Good luck and enjoy!

Muriel


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 21:53
best resource for research Mar 17, 2006

James Visanji DipTrans PhD wrote:

5 minutes on Kudoz will throw up plenty of mistranslations


agree with James, Kudoz is probably your best research resource anywhere...
the Fr/Eng and Eng/Fr pairs are gold mines of mistranslations... even WITH enough context (and many if not mostly from the Blue Ribbons)...

df


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 16:53
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
tip Mar 17, 2006

Here's another one. I was given once a long tagged file to translate using Tag Editor. One of the segments was the word "TIP". There was nothing afterwards, nor before indicating its meaning. Was it "an indication of potential opportunity" or "the extreme end of something; especially something pointed"? (taken from http://www.onelook.com/?w=tip&ls=a)

I could not find anyfurther reference, nor the client answered me. I had to decide myself. A year later I found a brochure with the original text on the Web. There, I realized that I had made the wrong decision.

Regards

Clarisa


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 21:53
example of mistranslation Mar 18, 2006

here's a perfect example of mistranslation (faux-sens) that came up today on kudoz Fr/Eng, to add to your collection:
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1284996

Not however due to lack of context, which was perfectly sufficient in this case - simply due to lack of native insight and/or knowledge of the source language leading to a confusion with a similar expression, and/or due to another common pitfall in translating i.e. believing we know and being 100% sure and neglecting to double-check.

df


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:53
French to English
+ ...
not due to inadequate context Mar 20, 2006

I’ve a couple of examples (Search a database = “rechercher une base de données” instead of “faire des recherches dans une base de données”


This mistranslation (I presume this is an EN>FR translation?) is not due to lack of context, it's due to poor understanding of the English. Under no circumstances can 'search a database' (faire des recherches dans une base de données) mean the same thing as 'search for a database' (rechercher une base de données).

If I think of any mistranslations due to lack of context, I'll let you know.


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 21:53
lack of context not a good enough excuse Mar 20, 2006

Angela Dickson wrote:

I’ve a couple of examples (Search a database = “rechercher une base de données” instead of “faire des recherches dans une base de données”


This mistranslation (I presume this is an EN>FR translation?) is not due to lack of context, it's due to poor understanding of the English. Under no circumstances can 'search a database' (faire des recherches dans une base de données) mean the same thing as 'search for a database' (rechercher une base de données).

If I think of any mistranslations due to lack of context, I'll let you know.


Re. "search the database", Angela's point is absolutely right.

"Lack of context" (although it can indeed cause mistranslations) is too often used as a bad pretext by incompetent translators trying to find an excuse for their inability to understand (both on kudoz and in the rest of the translation world).
It seems to me that the majority of mistranslations (aside of course from MTs) are not due to a lack of context, but rather to inadequate understanding of the source language... which is precisely the very limitation of the rule of "translate only in your native language" (this is demonstrated time and time again by the innumerable incorrect answers offered on kudoz by native speakers of the target language - at least in my Fr/Engl/Eng/Fr pairs - not to mention the non-natives of either languages, but that's another issue)
- i.e. your linguistic knowledge, cultural fluency and intuitive insight, and therefore your understanding of the source language are just as essential as good writing skills and knowledge of the target language to produce a good translation - writing skills, another of my pet peeves, or rather the lack thereof, in one's native language being the other major pitfall - and unfortunately many people out there with a "translator" business card and profile lack both...
df

[Edited at 2006-03-25 13:57]


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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:53
Member (2005)
French to English
Poor knowledge of English - or décalque May 8, 2006

Angela Dickson wrote:

I’ve a couple of examples (Search a database = “rechercher une base de données” instead of “faire des recherches dans une base de données”


This mistranslation (I presume this is an EN>FR translation?) is not due to lack of context, it's due to poor understanding of the English. Under no circumstances can 'search a database' (faire des recherches dans une base de données) mean the same thing as 'search for a database' (rechercher une base de données).

If I think of any mistranslations due to lack of context, I'll let you know.


In a long, rather indifferently-drafted document, it is quite possible to be overwhelmed by deadlines and fall into the trap described, and it is a hazard for even experienced translators. I am in the process of compiling a checklist along the lines of those published by some of my clients, but containing a few new features such as this: I shall open a line in the checklist table asking me whether I have checked for décalque or inept "reach-me-down" translations. As I write, the awful spectre of yet another woolly use of "en terme(s) de" / "in terms of" looms eerily at the edge of my consciousness...

Happy word-hunting nevertheless!


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 21:53
French to English
Niel Colledge's website Sep 26, 2006

Here is a French-to-English translator's website, where you will find a collection of funny mistranslations from different languages towards English.

http://www.neilcolledge.net/bloopers

I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for, but it's a laugh!


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