Off topic: Challenges in translating Obama's health care proposals
Thread poster: Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar)

Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
English to Polish
+ ...
Aug 27, 2009

Language metaphors are one of the biggest challenges to render in the target language (cf. Lakoff's Metaphors we live by). Following is an example of what I mean.

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new Obama health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter...."

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the ass holes in Washington.


Hilarious, but a nightmare to translate...
Enjoy!
Marek


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:55
English to German
+ ...
I love jobs like that. Aug 27, 2009

This is your challenge: Are you a brilliant translator?

Let the fireworks begin while being neutral - that's the true art of writing and translating.

Nightmare? My nightmares are boring texts. Grew some ulcers because of that.

I envy you for this beautiful task. Get it done well.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oh my!!! Aug 27, 2009

Quite a task indeed!
Good luck with it! I would love to have the challenge to translate this into Spanish!


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:55
English to German
+ ...
@Tomás: Yesss! Aug 27, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Quite a task indeed!
Good luck with it! I would love to have the challenge to translate this into Spanish!


Those are the rare tasks that make you feel proud of your profession. Because you can.


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István Hirsch  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
English to Hungarian
Not so difficult to find Aug 27, 2009

I have looked up the bold phrases of the first paragraph by Googling and always found the answer in the first item Google brought. Here is what I looked up and the website where the answer (definition) can be found.

Scratch definition - Google/Wordnetweb

Rash move – Google/Babylon

Gut feeling – Google/Wikipedia

„Lot of nerve” idiom – Google/thefreedictionary


[Módosítva: 2009-08-27 14:20 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:55
English to German
+ ...
One thing, though, Marek Aug 27, 2009

Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar) wrote:
the whole idea was a gas


Since you marked all the terms that are beautifully relating to bodily functions - please note that this one isn't.


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Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Buy why? Aug 27, 2009

You are free to give it a try

Let's now look at the nightmare side and logic behind it:

Standard questions customes ask:

How many words can you do per day: 2000? Well, let's be less optimistic and lower it down by 20% to 1800 per day. This gives 225 words per hour.

Rate per word: EUR 0.10? Is this a fair rate? Well, some medical words are used there, so let's increase the rate by 20% to 0.12.

So, here it goes:
Wordcount: 184 words
Rate per word: EUR 0.12
Total for job: EUR 22.08
Turnaround time: 1 hour.

Nicole Schnell wrote:
I envy you for this beautiful task. Get it done well.


Do you still envy me? Would you do it well in 1 hour? You can still do it for you own personal satisfaction

István Hirsch worte:
I have looked up the bold phrases


Don't get me wrong - the meaning is perfectly clear. No need to look up words or phrases at all.

The catch is to express the continuity of metaphors. Perhaps I'm the only translator who has trouble in doing that - linking the occupations to the bold phrases like: obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. How easy to change to Hungarian?

When I try and fail I get het up or simmer with with anger. The way out is to bottle it up but after some time I need to let off steam, and if I don't I may flip my lid or blow my top. (adapted from Lakoff's book). Simple and well-spoken in English. How easy can you change the same into a well-spoken translation, without getting things lost in translation?

Nicole Schnell wrote:
relating to bodily functions

double or treble metaphor
As far as I know, at least in English anesthesiologists give you gas And the gas they give you sometimes could give you gas although others could call it wind. Still for anesheriologists the whole thing is gas as long as they don't run out of gas Because even if the cylinder is full but the anesthesiologist runs out of gas it will be no laughing matter for you because the whole operation will not be a gas
Does the metaphor work in German too, and in Hungarian? It doesn't in Polish

Best,
Marek


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Michael Barnett
Local time: 13:55
English
+ ...
Puns Aug 27, 2009

It seems to me that the problem is an issue of metaphors as well as a problem of puns. How does one translate a double meaning that exists in the source language but that does not exist in the target language? Short of taking great liberty with the translation, I doubt that there is a solution.

The issue was alluded to in the current "Off Topic" thread "Inglorious Basterds".

Michael


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Mariusz Kuklinski  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:55
Member
English to Polish
+ ...
The right rates Aug 28, 2009

I would definitely apply the rates for poetry

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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:55
Swedish to English
+ ...
I would also love this job Aug 28, 2009

Although one hour isn't exactly ideal, I think I could just about make it. But my rate would be a lot higher as I would be totally exhausted and unable to do any useful work for the rest of the day

I just had a shot a the first three professions and they're not too hard in Swedish.

The Allergists want to "riva upp det" (tear it up, but "riva" is also "scratch"). The Dermatologists I'd change to Physiotherapists advising against: "snabba rörelser" (fast movements). And the Gastroenterologists have a "känsla i magen" (feeling in the stomach).

How I wish I could spend my days doing this kind of work..

Edited for typo.



[Edited at 2009-08-28 19:38 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-08-29 09:28 GMT]


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Dr. Cornelia Schmutzler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
German working draft Aug 28, 2009

A really nice piece of a project. After I had read your forum post, it kept me somehow every once a while distracted from my work the whole day through ....

It’s tricky but – well, I can’t tell how difficult it might be in Polish – not unfeasible in German. One reason: In German, you are fortunate enough to have lots of metaphores that work exactly as their English counterparts, or, at least, they are quite similar. If you use them, you loose virtually nothing of the original meaning.
But not for every one of the bold faced phrases. As Michael says, you cannot translate a double meaning that exists in the source language but that does not exist in the target language, so you must "translate" very freely. But as this is not a text which is meant to give information but to amuse, I believe, in this case, one is free to amuse using whatever one’s own language has in stock. It’s like idiomatic expressions: the different languages sometimes use completely different metaphores to communicate one and the same notion.
So here are just some first ideas that somehow dropped in these last hours – a working draft for a German version ....


The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new Obama health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it. ??? Can't think of anything similar in German. Maybe you might consult the Neurologists again who would recommend "es zu vergessen" (to forget it, would also work in English), or the Thyroidologists who would comment that it was "überflüssig wie ein Kropf" (as needless as a goiter).

The Gastroenterologists had sort of a "Bauchgefühl" about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration "haben wirklich Nerven"!

But the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. ??? Either the Orthopaedists would advise not to make haste, i.e., "nichts übers Knie zu brechen" (not to "break it over the knee") or the Pulmonologists would recommend to consider it carefully and "die Idee gründlich zu ventilieren" (to "ventilate it thoroughly"). (Or maybe the General Practitioners would opt for being considerate and "es sorgfältig abzuklopfen" (synonym for "auscultation"; OK, OK, not exactly referring to bodily functions).
(As for the Dermatologists, there is a very nice expression in German: "den Ausschlag geben" (to "give the rash") which means "a fact or a reason decides an issue", but, unfortunately, this idea does not occur in this nice little text.)

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. (No idea yet for this one, it is "eine harte Nuss" (a tough nut to crack), indeed.)
Ophthalmologists considered the idea "kurzsichtig". Pathologists yelled, "Nur über meine Leiche!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, werden Sie doch erwachsen!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was "Wahnsinn/Irrsinn/verrückt", while the Radiologists could "das Ganze durchschauen" (or maybe "hatten den Durchblick"). Surgeons decided to "ihre Hände in Unschuld zu waschen". The Internists thought it was "eine bittere Pille zu schlucken", and the Plastic Surgeons said, This "gibt der Sache ein neues Gesicht...."

The Podiatrists thought it was a "Schritt vorwärts", but the Urologists "fühlten sich ans Bein gepinkelt" at the whole idea.
The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas. ??? Maybe: The otologists thought it was "ein Hammer ("Hammer" is one of the little bones in the ear)",
and the Cardiologists "hatten nicht das Herz" to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the ass holes (well, this also works in German) in Washington.



It’s real fun. I am sure the ideas will keep stumbling in ...

Cornelia


[Bearbeitet am 2009-08-28 20:36 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:55
English to German
+ ...
Yes, Marek. Aug 29, 2009

Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar) wrote:

Do you still envy me? Would you do it well in 1 hour? You can still do it for you own personal satisfaction


As a matter of fact, I am specializing in stuff like that. At regular rates as listed in my profile page? Certainly not. At copy writing rates? Yes.

Why within one hour? Is anybody on the run? Brochures in advertising agencies take several weeks to be finished, at times even months. Did I mention that good copy writing is always teamwork? Yet a single translator is supposed to produce the same linguistic, witty and brilliant fireworks within 24 hours because it is only 12 pages.

The degree of difficulty of any translation should never be measured by how often you have to pick up a dictionary.


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