Poll: Do you convert the currency when translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:43
SITE STAFF
Oct 28, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you convert the currency when translating?".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Oct 28, 2015

Normally, as a wordsmith my basic rate covers the text only, i.e. words. Any numerical amounts, figures, currency, equations etc and also abbreviations except the most widely-known are understood to be the responsibility of the client. I might do it if specifically asked by the client beforehand, but normally I just handle the words, while things like currency transformations, figures and formatting are " not my job, mate".

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:43
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Sure, why not? Oct 28, 2015

If they pay extra, of course. icon_smile.gif

This has nothing to do with translation, IMHO.


 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:43
English to French
I ask the client Oct 28, 2015

Converting monetary values requires to know what currency exchange rate you use (daily exchange rate is not adequate unless the text mentions a precise date), and what precision you want (for instance will you translate millions to the precision of a cent?).
When handed a document containing monetary values without any comment about them, I ask the client for directives, as it shows that he hasn't given a thought to that yet.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:43
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Oct 28, 2015

Always, if and when asked by the client. Otherwise, it depends on the context and on the target audience.

 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
Member (2003)
French to English
Workshop Oct 28, 2015

If anyone really wants to get into this in detail, Jean-Pierre Mailhac runs a great workshop on Translating Currency Figures http://www.jpmlanguageservices.com/translation-workshops/currency-figures/

 

Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:43
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never Oct 28, 2015

in legal and accounting contexts. If it's subtitles or anything of the sort, where the value itself (down to the cent) hardly matters, but where it's only important that the reader should have a general sense of value, then yes.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:43
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No. I do it after I get paid :-D Oct 28, 2015

When clients overseas pay me, usually in USD, however occasionally in EUR, AUD, GBP, I convert the currency into BRL after I get paid, so I can use that money to pay my bills. Duh!

Of course, the client must decide what they want, not only in terms of converting currency, but also what exchange rate to use. We have SIX different rates for USD alone published in Brazil every day, and it often varies every day. On top of thee six, there is what you actually get from each different trading place.

To illustrate this last point, a late black market foreign exchange operator I knew once told me that one client was indignant upon learning how much (or how little) he was paying on the USD on a specific day.
The client argued, "But today's newspaper says the USD is worth BRL 'X'!"
... to which he replied, "However I am paying only 'Y'. If that's not enough for you, don't waste time with me. Go sell your USDs to that newspaper."


A much more important issue is whether one should convert fixed "exchange rate" measurements, e.g. inches into metric or vice-versa. This should be always the client's call, and they still have the option of requiring BOTH to appear on the translation, either separated by a slash or one of them in brackets/parenthesis.

Some units are tricky.
For instance, fuel consumption in the USA is measured in MPG (miles per gallon). In Brazil it is measured in km/l (kilometers per liter). This is pretty easy: 1 mile = 1.609 km; 1 gallon = 3.785 liters, simple math will do.
However AFAIK in Europe the usual fuel consumption unit is liters/100 km, which requires the translator to know a little bit of basic algebra.

[Edited at 2015-10-28 10:20 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:43
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends on the text Oct 28, 2015

If it is an item for sale, then the price is usually as stated, in the currency mentioned.

On a menu yesterday I changed the formatting and the decimal comma to a decimal point, but left it at that. If the restaurant was prepared to accept Euros or other currencies, then the cash desk would deal with conversion and do it for a whole bill, not single items.

Figures and exchange rates etc. are normally well beyond my scope!
I would charge for my time and checking if anyone did want me to do it.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:43
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
No Oct 28, 2015

I don't think I've ever converted a currency in a source document to any other currency.
Most of the documents I translate are financial and/or legal. The figure in the source document is almost certainly an essential term of the contract or agreement.
Into which currency would I be supposed to covert it - and at what exchange rate? Exchange rates change hourly or oftener.
Perhaps, if I were translating a document from centuries ago or about the past, I might try to convert groats, sisterces, or whatever it was into a modern currency (in brackets or as a translator's note), to give a general idea of the size of the sum concerned.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
"General sense of value" Oct 28, 2015

Kirsten Bodart wrote:

[Never] in legal and accounting contexts. If it's subtitles or anything of the sort, where the value itself (down to the cent) hardly matters, but where it's only important that the reader should have a general sense of value, then yes.


Kirsten's comments reminded me that in translating operas and operettas, to provide "over/super titles", I quite often come across currency "problems": "doblones" goes happily as "dobloons", but many old Spanish coins and their names are totally unfamiliar to a modern non-Spanish audience, so I have to find out roughly what their value might have been in their day in order to come up with something equivalent for today - there's a lot of difference between a reference to "a few cents" and "half a million".

Edited for a typo

[Edited at 2015-10-28 17:38 GMT]


 

Katrin Bosse  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:43
Member (2009)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Currency conversion IS part of the localization, ergo = translation Oct 29, 2015

Julian Holmes wrote:

If they pay extra, of course. icon_smile.gif

This has nothing to do with translation, IMHO.



I strongly disagree! When I translate UK or US texts into German (mother tongue), I need to convert GBP or US-Dollar (or any other currency not EUR) for the German reader. It's also widely done in the German (print) media.

I understand this as a regular feature of localizing a text for the targeted audience, the localization being, in fact, one of the essential features of translation in my opinion (and as taught at my uni).

Since I don't translate legal or financial documents, I don't see a problem with fluctuating change rates. The conversion just serves to give the reader a better understanding of the amount of money the text is talking about.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:43
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never - Agree with Jenny Oct 29, 2015

Jenny Forbes wrote:
I don't think I've ever converted a currency in a source document to any other currency.
Most of the documents I translate are financial and/or legal. The figure in the source document is almost certainly an essential term of the contract or agreement.


I mostly translate official documents and the same reasoning applies. Sometimes an author will explain the equivalent, but that's the author's job, not mine.

(This was a refreshing question - I don't think it's been asked before.)


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:43
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
NO! Of course not! Oct 30, 2015

For several reasons, it is undue to "translate" currency. I mean several, many, countless. I'm not going to list them all here, as this is pretty obvious for those who know some of these reasons.

It's OK to convert miles to Km, gallons to liters, feet to meters, etc., as these depend on the country, and it makes it easier for people to understand it. Plus, there are standard conversions that do not change, which is not the case of exchange rates.

So, my advice for professional translators is: Please DO NOT convert currencies, unless your clients explicitly requests it and indicates the source for the exchange rate.


 


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