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Poll: Do you coin a term if there is no exact match in the target language?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Jan 13, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you coin a term if there is no exact match in the target language?".

This poll was originally submitted by Zeki G.. View the poll results »



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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:56
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
No Jan 13, 2015

I work mostly with medical texts. Coining a term specialists in the field do not use would at best be confusing. In those cases, often the English term is used; if necessary, I will give a description alongside the English term.

I occasionally work in more creative fields; there, I could imagine coining a new term.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other - it depends Jan 13, 2015

Usually there IS a term, as my target language is English, and in that case it has to be found. In general, if there is a term at all, then there is an English term somewhere...

I actually have to be wary if the source has used an English-looking term (or Latin in medical texts) because it may not be the most widely accepted in that context, and I may miss it if I know both.

The accelerator or gas pedal in a car is the 'speeder' in Danish, just to take the first example that comes to mind.

Danes use a lot of English, quite creatively in some contexts. Some of these expressions catch on among Danes, but would not be recognised in the same way by others. There is often a subtle undertone or double meaning which is lost on anyone who doesn't speak Danish.

So part of my job is to translate Danglish or Globish into more mainstream English... whatever THAT may be!

On other occasions there really is no English equivalent for a Danish phenomenon, and then if I can't find anything adequate, I might invent an expression as well as explaning.

I am sure the same sort of thing goes on in many other languages.


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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:26
Member
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Rarely/Other Jan 13, 2015

Gujarati like many Indian languages is etymologically related to Sanskrit. It also means that some of the sister languages do have a term which may be relatively closer to the source term. I cannot say that I coin an expression but rarely "borrow" it, so long as it fits well and is perceived to be acceptable by the reader. This is specially true with legal content where I find Hindi terminology quite helpful.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:56
Turkish to English
+ ...
It is sometimes necessary in legal translation Jan 13, 2015

A doctrine or arrangement in one jurisdiction may have no cognate in another. This is a problem frequently encountered by legal translators who translate texts from civil-law jurisdictions into English, given that English-speaking countries have fundamentally different common-law jurisdictions. There is occasionally no other option than to coin a plausible target-language term.

One example I have encountered is the distinction present in most civil-law jurisdictions that can be expressed in Latin as "lacuna intra legem" v. "lacuna praeter legem", depending on whether a loophole has been left in the law erroneously or has been left deliberately so the courts may rule on the matter on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps there is an accepted English language equivalent, but I have never been able to find it, so I would address this issue either by paraphrasing or using a plausible coined term, followed by the accepted Latin equivalent in brackets on the first occasion.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Words used less in one language than the other Jan 13, 2015

In translating from Russian to English, I often have to change words for which an equivalent does exist but is much more rarely used, e.g. "представитель (predstavitel)" which means "representative", but is used far more often, so I usually change it to whatever else fits, like "member" or "spokesman". Some words have an equivalent but are best left out altogether. "Обеспечить (obespechit)" means "ensure", or "safeguard". But often (though not always) in English we would just say, e.g. "to check something", rather than "to ensure that something is checked".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rarely Jan 13, 2015

Not something I'd do every day, but when the occasion demands, I'm not afraid to stick my neck out.

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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 12:56
French to English
+ ...
No, but... Jan 13, 2015

..would allow an exception when the source word is also a coined term. In that case, I would make up something that conveys the same idea.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:56
Member (2008)
English to Italian
it can happen Jan 13, 2015

well, when translating patents sometimes you have something new and then you have to find a word... but since this kind of texts goes to people who work in the field, I always write an email with my idea and I wait for a confirmation!

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:56
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I did in the past Jan 13, 2015

for concepts (technical or financial) that didn't exist in Czech, and some are now used. I once invented a name for a feature one of my client companies invented for their machines, then much later I was interpreting for them and couldn't remember the expression - and one of their technician told me "Miss, this is called X" (the name I invented) - I laughed about it a lot.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once Jan 13, 2015

I did once but only because the word in the original had been coined first, so there was no real equivalent.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Only if it's a neologism in the original Jan 13, 2015

The fact that a word has been coined is information in itself. The translator should follow suit. If it's an odd word in the source language that's difficult to explain because of cultural connotations, I might preserve the original form in the target with an explanation, but if it exists in the source language, I wouldn't create a neologism in the target.

John Cutler wrote:
I did once but only because the word in the original had been coined first, so there was no real equivalent.


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:56
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Occasionally Jan 13, 2015

The book I am currently translating contains many new terms which have been coined by the author and therefore I am having a lot of fun inventing equivalents in English. However, I can see how this might be more problematic in a legal or technical field.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
I wish Jan 13, 2015

I wish right now I were translating something with a term for "half-hearted snow that isn't likely to settle but still causes weak headteachers to send kids home early from school and mess up the schedules of the self-employed".

Ninja Sleet, perhaps?


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:56
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sometimes, Jan 13, 2015

If the original term was also coined in, I feel fine doin so. Otherwise, I'd rather insert an expression that explains it or keep it in the original language with an explanation in parenthesis.

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