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Poll: "Translators know the name of everything and the meaning of nothing"
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Oct 14, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question ""Translators know the name of everything and the meaning of nothing"".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 21:18
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't agree! Oct 14, 2016

Whoever said that has a very low opinion of translators in general...

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Poppycock Oct 14, 2016

However, as I go through life I've found that you can get away with uttering all sorts of stuff and nonsense simply by saying it authoritatively, with conviction, because people will believe you (See Brexit, for example).

@Mario: I'm glad you liked it. Here, have some "BALderdash" to wash it down...

[Edited at 2016-10-14 10:04 GMT]


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:18
English to Russian
+ ...
Other -- I partially agree Oct 14, 2016

Translators know the name of everything, but have DEEP knowledge of nothing

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:18
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Rubbish! Oct 14, 2016

Of course, you can find wannabes who can score thousands KudoZ points and find a word for everything without understanding the deeper meaning. I have been lucky that way myself. But it is very easy to get the wrong word that way too. Right from childhood, I have looked at why one word fits where another doesn't, and made an effort to know what I am talking about. I hate not knowing the precise meaning.

Admittedly, when I watch programmes like "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" (preferably in German with Gunther Jauch) I find I can often select the right answers with only a superficial understanding of the meaning. Jauch himself actually knows an impressive amount about many fields, and his comments are not pure patter, and that is why he is so entertaining.

However, the colleagues I work with really know the ins and outs of their own specialisms. Some have become translators precisely because they are specialists and appreciate the need for in-depth understanding of the subject.

I don't know a single translator with the approach in the question! But it is a neat description of translation machines and artificial intelligence.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:18
English to Spanish
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Heheheh, he said poppycock! Oct 14, 2016

neilmac wrote:

However, as I go through life I've found that you can get away with uttering all sorts of stuff and nonsense simply by saying it authoritatively, with conviction, because people will believe you (See Brexit, for example).


Agreed. We live in the slogan-as-authoritative-quote age. Just take a look at LinkedIn. Disgusting.



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
The meaning of a good espresso Oct 14, 2016

Speaking of meanings, who's up for a cup of Portuguese coffee? My treat!



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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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Ridiculous! Oct 14, 2016

I can't translate unless I understand the meaning. If I find something I don't understand, I do the research until the concept is clear to me. In my entire 40+ year career I don't think I have never used a word from a dictionary without first finding out what it meant.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 21:18
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hear, hear! Oct 14, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I can't translate unless I understand the meaning. If I find something I don't understand, I do the research until the concept is clear to me. In my entire 40+ year career I don't think I have never used a word from a dictionary without first finding out what it meant.


Our job is to make sure that the meaning and context are never lost in translation, isn’t it?


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emaleu  Identity Verified
Canada
Member
English to French
+ ...


Posted via
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Ignorance Oct 14, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I can't translate unless I understand the meaning. If I find something I don't understand, I do the research until the concept is clear to me. In my entire 40+ year career I don't think I have never used a word from a dictionary without first finding out what it meant.

Whoever said that simply does not know what he is talking about. If the person had ever handled any project in her life, he/she won't utter such rxxxxxx.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Unlike some quiz and Scrabble nerds ... Oct 14, 2016

... I'd say that generally translators are most particularly interested in the exact meaning of words and technical terms.
Certain Scrabble nerds can become champions by learning the lists of words which are acceptable according to the game's rules but they aren't remotely interested in what those words mean or how they are used.
The same applies to certain quiz nerds. They can learn lists of US state capitals, top 40 UK hit singles, Oscar winners, Nobel prize winners, the periodic table, etc. etc. without taking any interest in the facts surrounding them.
Yes, you can get away with statements such as the one offered here by putting it in inverted commas but not attributing it to anyone. Ridiculous.


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zabit2005  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:18
Member (2014)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Yes but machine translators Oct 14, 2016

This must be the google translate I think

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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
wannabes? really? Oct 14, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:

Of course, you can find wannabes who can score thousands KudoZ points and find a word for everything without understanding the deeper meaning. I have been lucky that way myself. But it is very easy to get the wrong word that way too.


Wannabes?

Really? I would not call anyone who sacrifizes his/her own time to help others call this way.
Dear Christine, I respect you very much and this is they first time I disagree with you. It is so easy to look at someone's efforts and ruin the day. (IMHO, it is too easy...)


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 22:18
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
definitely not Oct 14, 2016

Alexander Kondorsky wrote:

Translators know the name of everything, but have DEEP knowledge of nothing


Even translators do not know the name of everything BUT they are sthe specilaists in the deep ocesan of words and they will find the meaning of any owrd if they search for it.

So they do have DEEP knowledge in linguistics, syntax, grammar etc.


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Henry Schroeder  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:18
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
"translators" needs to be replaced with "people" Oct 14, 2016

Isn't that what was the question was supposed to say?

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