Poll: What do you do when you have problems figuring out the right translation for a word/phrase?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:39
SITE STAFF
May 31, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you do when you have problems figuring out the right translation for a word/phrase?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Combination of strategies May 31, 2016

Usually in the following order:
1. Quick search, or longer, depending on how important the concept is for the context;
2. Highlight it (in gray) and proceed to see if the answer unfolds as I work;
3. Do more research;
4. Ask colleagues on KudoZ - Why wasn't that an option?!?


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:39
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly the same here! May 31, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Usually in the following order:
1. Quick search, or longer, depending on how important the concept is for the context;
2. Highlight it (in gray) and proceed to see if the answer unfolds as I work;
3. Do more research;
4. Ask colleagues on KudoZ - Why wasn't that an option?!?


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Sara Maghini  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:39
English to Italian
+ ...
Query to the client May 31, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Usually in the following order:
1. Quick search, or longer, depending on how important the concept is for the context;
2. Highlight it (in gray) and proceed to see if the answer unfolds as I work;
3. Do more research;
4. Ask colleagues on KudoZ - Why wasn't that an option?!?


Same here, but if I am not satisfied with the answers received on KudoZ, or if I cannot ask colleagues here, I send a query to the client (usually once I've finished the whole translation, so that I send all queries at once, for their convenience). Best way to make sure you are not mistranslating their text!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 31, 2016

All/both of the above. It also depends on highly subjective factors. For example, in technical texts I am more likely to research each new term as it crops up, but on the other hand, if I am 'in the zone' and in full flow, I might just use a placeholder translation and then research/try out a more suitable term once I have the initial draft ready. For example, when translating verbatims (interviews with respondents), there may be one or two things that crop up that I can't immediately render, so I'll leave them until the final stages.

I often use the proz kudoz feature to brainstorm colleagues' opinions, which came in useful the other day when seeking a term that would be acceptable and understood on both sides of the pond. It's always interesting to see other people's take on things.

PS: I almost left out one of the avenues I consider important - being able to ask the client for their input. Sometimes when there are several possible options available, I'll let the client choose which one they prefer. Most of them enjoy being kept in the loop this way. And sometimes you really need to just ask them "what do you really mean by XXXX"...

[Edited at 2016-05-31 09:29 GMT]


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Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 07:39
French to Dutch
+ ...
Mostly the same May 31, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

Usually in the following order:
1. Quick search, or longer, depending on how important the concept is for the context;
2. Highlight it (in gray) and proceed to see if the answer unfolds as I work;
3. Do more research;
4. Ask colleagues on KudoZ - Why wasn't that an option?!?


Steps 1-3: check!
Step 4: I do ask colleagues, but mostly through direct contact and I would ask it in a couple of Belgian/Dutch Facebookgroups for translators as well since they are very active.
For my language pairs, KudoZ is a bit less active, although I really like the idea of asking it on Proz and being able to "reward" others for their answers as well (and not only just a mental note).


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Other May 31, 2016

I don't

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other May 31, 2016

In the rare cases this has happened, I normally get up, go out on the balcony and survey the trees for a couple of minutes. When I return to the desk I usually find the right term pretty fast. It seems to be a matter of "Can't see the forest for all the trees".

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good 'other' May 31, 2016

Thayenga wrote:

In the rare cases this has happened, I normally get up, go out on the balcony and survey the trees for a couple of minutes. When I return to the desk I usually find the right term pretty fast. It seems to be a matter of "Can't see the forest for all the trees".


The seedlings of a blooming strategy.



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Other strategies May 31, 2016

In translation theory, we talk about translation techniques and translation strategies. A technique would be how close or how far I want to be to the author (literal vs. dynamic equivalence, for example). A strategy would be how much time I want to spend building a glossary of terms or learning about a new technical, artistic or economic concept mentioned in the text.

Whatever technique or strategy I end up using (or a combination of techniques or strategies), I'm usually faced with a series of problems that call for additional research to figure out the right translation for a word or phrase.

Take, for example, the word hardware in a technical context. In most Romance languages, we just import the word when translating stuff about computers and software. But a recent oil & gas text I've been reviewing uses hardware both in the sense of computer equiment and in the sense of any other kind of equipment, like a transformer, a radio device, etc. That presents a problem in two areas.

1) Glossaries: many clients want you to adhere 100% to the glossary, but since they're not writers nor do they think like one, they automatically assume that hardware should always have the same glossary translation throughout the document.
2) Poor English writing: careless technical writers made no difference in the sample text above. Instead of using radio equipment, they just inserted 'hardware' as if everyone else on the planet thought like them.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:39
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
For those who weren't around in the 80's May 31, 2016

When I started translating, back in the 80's, we had serious trouble with this. Nowadays, it would be a shame not to find a correct translation for a term with all the resources we have available. If you can't find it in the regular sources, you can ask for help in so many sites, it's pretty hard not to find a translation. It's not impossible, but it's at least rare.

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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Later Jun 1, 2016

Sometimes I asterisk terms to look up later. By the time I have finished the rest, I have a stronger notion of the context and can render the puzzling words more precisely. Often unknown acronyms are spelled out somewhere on the subsequent pages, and other mysterious constructions become quite clear.

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Odile Stuart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:39
Member (2006)
English to French
+ ...
Time is of the essence Jun 1, 2016

Research 'all direction'
Most of all, let some time pass, go back to it later.
It's a craft.


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