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Poll: Do you find yourself writing words that you have not written before?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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Apr 28, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you find yourself writing words that you have not written before?".

This poll was originally submitted by Francesca Battaglia. View the poll results »



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Francesca Battaglia
Italy
Local time: 07:15
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
this one came into my mind when Apr 28, 2013

I found myself writing a word I use very often in the spoken Language but that, being quite colloquial, I never had to write. And it was weird..It felt almost unnatural and so I started thinking of all those words that we use even daily but that we never put on paper (or digital paper).
Quite funny because it's our native Language and I guess we never really think there are words we never write.
Since then, I strive to write new "spoken" words and I feel proud when I get to use new words and see them on paper.


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Other Apr 28, 2013

I honestly do not understand this question.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Maybe, I'm not sure... Apr 28, 2013

I have been translating for so many years that, quite frankly, I can't remember all the words I have written so far, but of course oral and written texts are very different!

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 08:15
Turkish to English
+ ...
transciever Apr 28, 2013

The above word cropped up in a contract I am translating at the moment, and I had never heard of this term before, so, yes, when I typed it I did so for the first time in my life. So what?

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Gilla Evans  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
editorial comment Apr 28, 2013

transceiver (i before e except after c)


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 11:45
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Most day to day activities can be done with a handful of words Apr 28, 2013

Estimates vary from 500 to 2000 words. With a vocabulary as big as this - often called the basic vocabulary - you can lead a fairly satisfactory social life.

But professional writers, translators, orators, and other professional users of languages have a much larger vocabulary. I don't know what the Guinness record for the largest vocabulary is, but it could run into several thousands.

Most good writers, translators, orators etc., also routinely coin new words for appropriate occasions where no good term exist in their language. So it is quite normal for translators like ourselves to use words that we have never heard before.

It is more likely that we would have heard the word or read it somewhere, and it would have registered in our subconscious, but we may not be actively remembering it when we use it in an appropriate situation.

Language works in mysterious ways in our minds which has not yet been clearly understood by scientists.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Apr 28, 2013

It doesn't happen all that often, but whenever it does I tend to make a mental note of the terms that crop up for future reference.

Although in recent years most of my work has tended to be in the same three or four main areas, I do sometimes venture into subjects outside of my "comfort zone" which I know very little about. Sometimes the vocabulary may be very low frequency in terms of use, especially in highly technical texts. I was amazed at the amount of new terms I came across in fields such as forestry and geology, which I more or less immediately "forgot" once the jobs in question were delivered.

However, I look on this kind of thing as enriching rather than perplexing. As my mother used to say (and still does), "it's all grist to the mill."


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Learning something new everyday Apr 28, 2013

Tim Drayton wrote:

The above word cropped up in a contract I am translating at the moment, and I had never heard of this term before, so, yes, when I typed it I did so for the first time in my life. So what?


Exactly. And you'll know the next time it crops up


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Texte Style
Local time: 07:15
French to English
loads! Apr 28, 2013

There are all sorts of terms I come across and find myself using in a translation that I've never used before.

Most recently "ogee", "mullions" and "window tracery" among others in a translation about medieval architecture, that was as uplifting as the cathedrals being described. I just love the word "ogee" and vaguely wonder how on earth I would pronounce it if ever I had to, while "mullions" has a distinctively magical medieval ring to it, I just love it.

There were some other terms I discovered but that seemed so obscure I decided to avoid them. Ogee was explained in a lexicon at the end, but for the terms which weren't covered in the lexicon I felt I ought to keep things simple as it was a text aimed at tourists. Of course I could have suggested adding certain words to the lexicon in the translation but it took over a week for the PM to understand why I had suggested removing one term which was redundant, being a well-known English term, so I decided against it.

I learnt tons about medieval architecture while researching the translation and am now eager to go and visit these places, and bore my partner stiff with all my newly gleaned knowledge, and this is one of the things I love most about translating this type of text.

Other words I come across in the course of interaction with native English speakers, and have trouble translating them into French. The most typical example of this would be "empowerment". I note such words on a post-it and keep the post-its on my screen in case they ever come in handy in a translation. When there are too many post-its I put them in a file called "Think of using", which I consult occasionally when I'm stuck for inspiration.


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Andris Dinaburgskis  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 08:15
English to Latvian
+ ...
Sometimes Apr 28, 2013

1) totally new terms in IT/telecom and other fields
2) some rarely used words, mostly to avoid confusion


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janen
Local time: 19:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
passive vocabulary Apr 28, 2013

From time to time, when translating, when trying to find the right word (to put across a general idea - not a technical term), I come up with a word out of my own vocabulary that I never normally use and would hardly have realised I knew. And I have wondered whether that happens to other people.
Of course, I sometimes also encounter new techncial terms.


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:15
German to English
+ ...
Yes Apr 28, 2013

Normally in my source languages if I have not encountered them before: I type them into the Google search box, or online dictionary search.

As regards my native English, I tend to stick to words in my fairly extensive vocabulary which I know very well.

I view "writing" and "translating" as two different activities.
For me, writing involves expressing my own thoughts, and therefore any combination of words is possible.
When translating, the source text already provides a framework on which to hang words/phrases/expressions, so if the translation calls for words I do not normally use, I make sure first that I understand them, and that I use them correctly.
It is only very occasionally that these new words get incorporated into my personal arsenal; it depends if I like them or not!


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:15
Hebrew to English
Nice idea - I do something similar Apr 29, 2013

Texte Style wrote:
Other words I come across in the course of interaction with native English speakers, and have trouble translating them into French. The most typical example of this would be "empowerment". I note such words on a post-it and keep the post-its on my screen in case they ever come in handy in a translation. When there are too many post-its I put them in a file called "Think of using", which I consult occasionally when I'm stuck for inspiration.


I have a little black book (not THAT kind! ) with words which have caused me pain and when I know I'll encounter them again. I also put words in there which are totally new to me (in Hebrew and/or English) and which I think will come in handy at a later date.

There's nothing more annoying than trying to retrieve a word from your memory which you know you have dealt with before, but can't quite get at it (tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon - but sometimes it's more than that, sometimes it's not on the tip of your tongue, it's firmly lodged in some deep dark crevice of your brain.

"Crevice" - there's a word I don't find myself writing often!

[Edited at 2013-04-29 19:47 GMT]


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

Unless it's a technical medical translation in a field I'm not familiar with. I think my active vocabulary caught up with my passive vocabulary some time ago - but then, I have been on the planet for a really long time.

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