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Poll: Have you ever translated texts from the 19th century or earlier?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

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Local time: 18:21
SITE STAFF
May 4, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever translated texts from the 19th century or earlier?".

This poll was originally submitted by Oleg Delendyk. View the poll results »



 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:21
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes May 4, 2014

But only as part of my Japanese degree. A whole range of selected extracts from famous Japanese literature, in fact, dating back to early 8th century in my 3rd year of university.

Oh, come to think of it, I mustn't forget all the stuff dating back to the 7th or 8th century BC that I translated for my Latin and (classical) Greek 'A' levels. I used to read 40 or 50 pages of the Illiad and the Odyssey every day on the way to school.

Quirk of fate that I ended up studying and translating Japanese. icon_biggrin.gif


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:21
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, I have. May 4, 2014

17th century--Polish mixed with Latin, some Old Swedish Manuscripts and 19th century Russian literature.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:21
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes May 4, 2014

But never professionally! In school we read Shakespeare (Hamlet) in English and Molière (Le Malade imaginaire) in French and we had to translate some texts. Later on, when I attended university in Lisbon I secretly read in English and translated some of Marx and Engels’s works (these books were forbidden in Portugal during Salazar’s dictatorship).

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
At school May 4, 2014

At school, back in the days when you learned about the culture and background of a country at A level. I continued for a while at what was then Newcastle Poly as well, with more Chaucer, MHG and 18th and 19th-century French and German authors, though I don't remember how much we actually translated.

In fact only this week I translated a paragraph of John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) into Danish - it is quoted in the source of a text I am translating. A pity they don't want more - I was really enjoying trying to give a hint of Ruskin's style for modern Danes! The target readers are university students.

As part of my work, only quotes and snippets like that tend to come up, but if I can't find an earlier translation, I do my own. I have translated some private letters for a family in Australia.

Bible quotations come up in speeches for weddings, and I usually find a couple of versions. Clients ask for the 'real' King James text - which I give them - and then they balk at reading it aloud!
Danes have difficulty pronouncing the th sound. (That 'Charity suffereth long and is kind' passage can be a challenge for English natives too, both to read and understand.)

So I refer them to a couple of more modern versions, which are far more like the Danish they are familiar with, and let them choose.

It is important to check whether the translation should be into the language of today, or whether it should be in the style of its own century in the target language. How to render both the style and the meaning will vary from language to language and century to century, but I would like to do more of that kind of thing when I retire.

Ruskin's beautiful descriptions, followed by the pithier observation of the quote, would in fact be very difficult to render in modern Danish. It was probably a good thing I was only asked to translate a hundred words! People just don't seem to think that way any more. But some of the Danish students would be able to read Ruskin in English if they had the time.

Deadlines, deadlines...


[Edited at 2014-05-04 23:02 GMT]


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:21
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes May 4, 2014

My husband and I had a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities to translate and annotate Brazilian documents from the 1700s. They were documents about the gold rush in Minas. The project amounted to several hundred pages. It was tough work, because the sentences went on for pages. We would sit and puzzle over them together, trying to find the main verb.

Also, I translated letters written from the Portuguese government to Thomas Jefferson.

In addition, I have helped people translate some genealogy records.

I would never do this kind of work as part of my business because it's much too time-consuming.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just finished one May 4, 2014

A breath of fresh air after contracts and car repairs! I'd done a fair amount of nineteenth century and early 20th "zarzuela" but this was my first venture to earlier times.

And it was 17th century "tonos" - basically poetry, both religious and secular, set to music, much of it recitative style. Word order is a major challenge as you can imagine! I couldn't have done this without my degree in Spanish in which I studied a lot of literature of this period, meaning the vocabulary was largely familiar, and my musical experience was very valuable too.

And I loved it, even if it was far more time consuming than more prosaic categories. It takes a while to find your "voice", changing to such a radically different genre, but you get there eventually. Now I'm back with tourism for the next couple of weeks and I must check that I have regained my 21st century voice!



Edited for a typo.

[Edited at 2014-05-04 14:48 GMT]


 

Polina Haynes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:21
English to Russian
+ ...
as part of my degree in Danish philology May 4, 2014

Does that count?

I used to really enjoy it. We even tried translating extracts from The Gothic Bible as part of our etymology class. Goths would have been impressedicon_smile.gif

As for my professionall work the oldest text I had to translate dated from the 1940s.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Smart poll May 4, 2014

I have a newfound respect for colleagues who have worked with old texts. The closest I've been to a 19th century text (or earlier) has been my visit to The Cloisters museum in Upper Manhattan. It was a humid July in 1995 (I think) and the only air conditioned room in the entire building contained the books: illuminated books, tiny books, the whole thing.

 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sorry I misread you May 4, 2014

Julian Holmes wrote:

But only as part of my Japanese degree. A whole range of selected extracts from famous Japanese literature, in fact, dating back to early 8th century in my 3rd year of university.

Oh, come to think of it, I mustn't forget all the stuff dating back to the 7th or 8th century BC that I translated for my Latin and (classical) Greek 'A' levels. I used to read 40 or 50 pages of the Illiad and the Odyssey every day on the way to school.

Quirk of fate that I ended up studying and translating Japanese. icon_biggrin.gif


Somehow my eye only read your second paragraph thus:

“I mustn't forget all the dating back to the 7th or 8th century BC...”


icon_smile.gif


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 10:21
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I draw a line May 4, 2014

Mario Chavez wrote:

Sorry I misread you

Julian Holmes wrote:

...

Oh, come to think of it, I mustn't forget all the stuff dating back to the 7th or 8th century BC that I translated for my Latin and (classical) Greek 'A' levels. I used to read 40 or 50 pages of the Illiad and the Odyssey every day on the way to school.

....


Somehow my eye only read your second paragraph thus:

“I mustn't forget all the dating back to the 7th or 8th century BC...”


icon_smile.gif


at women who can remember the Battle of Hastings and Queen Boadicea even though a bit of experience is appreciated. icon_biggrin.gif


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:21
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Victor Hugo May 4, 2014

I had to translate a letter by Victor Hugo for a tourism website extolling the glories of the northern coastline of France.
I must say I felt very honoured.


 

Oleksandr Kupriyanchuk  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:21
Russian to English
+ ...
Several times! May 4, 2014

Some old documents, newspapers and handwritten texts on artefacts like medals, bricks, embroidery items, utensils and jewelery!

Polish, Russian/Ukrainian, old scripts into/from English/French

These job have been challenging but extremely exciting and, probably, ones of the most interesting I've ever done.



[Edited at 2014-05-04 17:33 GMT]


 

Laurens Sipahelut  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Dutch to Indonesian
+ ...
I answered "No", but... May 4, 2014

then I read Christine's post

Christine Andersen wrote:
Bible quotations come up in...


which reminded me that I officially kick-started my translation career as a back-translator for a Bible translation project. So, the answer should have been "Yes".


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:21
English to Polish
+ ...
Latin only ;) May 4, 2014

Other than some stuff for my own academic work.

 
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