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Poll: Do you add many words that are not in the source text to make the translation sound authentic?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Apr 19, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you add many words that are not in the source text to make the translation sound authentic?".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Apr 19, 2014

Define "many". I'll add and subtract as required to achieve what I deem an acceptable translation of the text in question.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:58
English to German
+ ...
Whatever I deem necessary Apr 19, 2014

I also may subtract words to make the text sound authentic.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Other Apr 19, 2014

Like Neilmac, what is 'many'?

Due to the vague, ambiguous nature of the Japanese language, I have to augment or flesh out sentences by adding subjects and objects which are often omitted and guessing if things are singular or plural from the context.
I also strip out words from the translated English since there is sometimes a lot of redundancy and repetition.

This kind of detective work is all part of the territory for J>E translators, but with my name it's quite elementary, actually.


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Texte Style
Local time: 17:58
French to English
well put Julian! Apr 19, 2014

Julian Holmes wrote:

Due to the vague, ambiguous nature of the Japanese language, I have to augment or flesh out sentences by adding subjects and objects which are often omitted and guessing if things are singular or plural from the context.
I also strip out words from the translated English since there is sometimes a lot of redundancy and repetition.

This kind of detective work is all part of the territory for J>E translators, but with my name it's quite elementary, actually.


LOL, literally!

In FR-EN I apply a fair amount of "cutting the cr@p": a three-liner can end up as a three-worder if the rest is just padding.

I will often put two adjectives instead of one in French when the French word is particularly eloquent. Like "convivial", I translate as "warm and friendly" because just "warm" or just "friendly" just doesn't seem enough. I do refrain from adding "wine-induced" although that's mostly what they mean.

Then again if I have to translate "détente et relaxation" ou "gestion et management", sorry folks, for the price of two you only get one.


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Peter Simon  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:58
Member (2013)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
depends ... Apr 19, 2014

I may also add or take away stuff that I deem un/necessary, but then again, just like 'many', 'un/necessary' is also quite subjective. Also, in my language pair(s), it may not be so usual as with Japanese or Chinese.

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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:58
French to English
+ ...
Silly question Apr 19, 2014

Translation isn't a case of translating individual words, but of a whole text to convey the meaning/style/feel of the whole in the target language. Words are just the building blocks...

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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 17:58
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
I asked this question, Apr 19, 2014

because I noticed this: There are many words and Terms in my source language (German), only with which a text actually sounds German. These words are part of the culture and the way Germans think and act.

As English (target) is a different way of thinking and acting and a different culture (as are all languages), these words and Terms will NOT APPEAR in the English text at all!

This is probably a very obvious Thing, but to me it helps me when I translate to try to get in the "German thinking field" and Transfer it to the Translation. Maybe no News to the rest of you


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:58
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Apr 19, 2014

Claire Cox wrote:

Translation isn't a case of translating individual words, but of a whole text to convey the meaning/style/feel of the whole in the target language. Words are just the building blocks...


Exactly. The translated text needs to feel/read naturally...whatever it takes.


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:58
English to Dutch
+ ...
I always feel that it is the message that must be translated... Apr 19, 2014

... and not the words, and that the message in the target language should have the same feel and intensity as the message in the source text. Having said that, I translate from English to Dutch and while English is a colorful language, Dutch is less colorful in certain situations, and I sometimes see advantages in looking for synonyms for original expressions, to avoid the text becoming too repetitive. Sometimes I even have to rewrite a sentence or three in a row into one sentence, just to keep the original touch and feel from the source text. I see that as part of my job description, but it does create problems when an inexperienced translation agency PM asks why there is a difference in sentences between source and target. The saying that there are no dumb questions, obviously does not apply in such situations .

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
Russian to English
+ ...
I am not sure what you mean by "adding words" Apr 19, 2014

Do you mean translating certain terms --one word terms as three word terms which is the right way to do because we do not translate words, but rather the meaning, or do you mean adding some extra words. Could you perhaps show an example in English of a sentence with "added words". (both in German and in English, if this is easier).

It also depends in what types of translation--you cannot add that much in legal translation--no matte what, especially document translation, as opposed to advertising, I guess.

[Edited at 2014-04-19 10:11 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:58
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Apr 19, 2014

Isn’t that what translation is about? Translation is about meaning, not just about words.To produce a text that sounds natural, flows well and makes sense in the target language one has to add or take away as many words as necessary…

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Laurens Sipahelut  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 22:58
Dutch to Indonesian
+ ...
Yes Apr 19, 2014

So as long they don't change the message.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not 'many', just add/subtract as necessary Apr 19, 2014

Any translator working under a word-for-translated-word system can be easily replaced by an electronic dictionary. This is how machine translation came up, with that anecdotal example. Later MT evolved into considering groups of words and entire phrases.

Yet computers haven't yet been enabled to think and feel, so human translators are still needed. Computers haven't yet been programmed with writing style, which is often a matter of personal style.

Another issue is the concept of authentic translation used here. What would be an authentic translation?

IMHO it is a thoroughly negative attribute.

Now and then I see an amateur, insipient, or plain clumsy "authentic translation". Vocabulary is mostly correct, spelling is okay, and there are no grammar mistakes. However the bilingual reader has to mentally back-translate every phrase to grasp the meaning behind it.

Such translations are so boldly authentic that, upon reading them, I see a virtual green neon sign flashing "TRANSLATED!!!" all the time. Of course, this sign detracts my attention while reading.

Each language pair should have its quirks. In my case, from English source into Portuguese target, the #1 sign of inept translation is the abusive presence of pronouns. Verbs in PT flex, so pronouns can and should be most often implied by them, rather than stated explicitly.

There are many other such features, though. Now and then I am given some EN-PT translation to proofread, and I have to tell them that "this is plain English written with Portuguese words; it must be redone". To me, that would be an "authentic translation", instead of text naturally written in the target language.


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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:58
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Other Apr 19, 2014

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I also may subtract words to make the text sound authentic.


Exactly.


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