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Poll: When translating, how often do you turn one sentence into two, or vice versa?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:22
SITE STAFF
Jan 29, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When translating, how often do you turn one sentence into two, or vice versa?".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 29, 2013

My working pair is ES-EN and Spanish is notorious for its lengthy sentences compared to English...

PS: In fact I had to split one up this morning in an academic paper I'm revising, as the way it was written originally by the author the meaning was unclear. I informed them in a note anyway, also asking them to confirm my understanding of the phrase.

[Edited at 2013-01-29 15:46 GMT]


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:22
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Jan 29, 2013

I am not such a fan of such comments, but what stupid question is this?

If you need to cut the sentence then cut it .....

No more comment(s)


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:22
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 29, 2013

If I think the text flows better with a more natural style as a result...

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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 29, 2013

Little bit of a strange question, but here goes. I translate mainly from Spanish into English. Spanish sentences tend to be lengthy and not to have a main focus. So I make my sentence in English have a main thrust, and then I use subordinations. Anything left over goes into a sentence of its own. But I do try to keep sentences as long as possible. I don't break them down into bite size chunks. This is because I'm trying to make the author as look as intellectual or as articulate as possible. Flow has a lot to do with it, naturally.

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Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 29, 2013

When it's necessary...

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 01:22
Turkish to English
+ ...
Never Jan 29, 2013

I would say (almost) never when working as a legal translator, which is my main specialism, because, in my opinion, there must be a high degree of correspondence between a legal translation and the source text. If the translation is of a document that has been submitted in litigation and, for example, one of the parties argues that "the third sentence of the second paragraph on page six says ...", then it must be possible to identify this sentence in both the source text and the translation.
On the other hand, if the purpose is to produce a publishable end result, very different considerations come into play.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:22
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 29, 2013

I like this question!

This is exactly what I was doing a minute ago when I got overwhelmed and took a break to check today's poll. I was dealing with a sentence 130 words long with many clauses. This is a report for publication, not a patent or legalese.

For me, an important criterion is the number of embedded clauses. My 130-word sentence (in Spanish) had six embedded clauses. The English reader is simply not used to following such a convoluted line of thinking. Another criterion is the relatedness of the clauses. In this case several quite different points were being made in the same sentence.

My guess is that this kind of writing is a product of stream-of-consciousness dictation.


[Edited at 2013-01-29 09:57 GMT]


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Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:22
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Frequently in technical manuals Jan 29, 2013

With customer's approval.

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Jean NICOLET  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:22
English to French
+ ...
Rarely Jan 29, 2013

Interesting question indeed!

I tend to use it rarely when translating financial documents. But when faced to more creative content, say video games, I don't mind splitting, merging, and making everything upside down


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:22
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes Jan 29, 2013

Only if necessary, but there is definitely an art to it, and you need to have the correct tools:



How to deal with an endlessly convoluted sentence.
Wie man einen Bandwurmsatz behandelt.


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Mustafa Er (BSc MA)  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 01:22
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A little of both would be my choice Jan 29, 2013

Like life itself: loyal but ugly or beautiful but not loyal; whichever suits you best...

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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:22
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Frequently Jan 29, 2013

I can see that it might be different for a technical or legal text, where a more literal translation is required. However, I am currently working on a literary text and have split several sentences already this morning. Russian is a much more succinct, 'tidy' language than English and so a translation is generally considerably longer than the original. Translating an already long, complex sentence into English often results in something quite unwieldy and difficult to understand. Therefore, for reasons of style and comprehension, it can much better to split the sentence into two. For similar reasons, I rarely find myself joining two sentences together.

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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Often part of the brief Jan 29, 2013

Many of the marketing and technical texts I translate will be read by customers who use English as a second language. Shorter sentences are usually a must.

In literary texts, I try to respect sentence length as part of the author's style. However, I might still cut or combine if the effect in English is more natural.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
All the time Jan 29, 2013

I think it's a great question because the results really surprised me!

I chop and change text all the time. I think it is an essential part of being a human translator rather than a machine.

It is much more difficult to do using CAT, which is another reason why CAT tends to reduce translation quality.

I kind of agree with the legal objection, but joining/splitting sentences can still be essential to convey the meaning of the original accurately and unambiguously.


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