Poll: Do you think translators each have their very own writing style, regardless of the source text?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:36
SITE STAFF
Nov 23, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think translators each have their very own writing style, regardless of the source text?".

This poll was originally submitted by Helen Portefaix. View the poll results »



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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:36
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
To some extent... Nov 23, 2016

I try to convey the style of the original, be it legal, medical, social or any other text I’m asked to translate, but it all depends on the purpose of the translation - a contract will have to be faithful to the source text, while a newspaper article will have to read “naturally” in the target language. I must say though that I have a marked preference for certain words or turns of phrase and a deep dislike for others…

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:36
Member (2008)
English to Italian
NO Nov 23, 2016

Everybody has a different style obviously, but you can't translate regardless of the source text...
example: if you translate a patent, which is redundant, and you translate like a description full of synonyms you are doing a bad job...
if you have to translate a book for children and you use a vocabulary which is "too high" for the target reader.. you're doing a bad job.
Then obviously you can have your own style, but "regardless of the source text" seems a bit too much...


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same here Nov 23, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

I must say though that I have a marked preference for certain words or turns of phrase and a deep dislike for others…


Especially that last part - I sometimes have to slap down my exuberance for certain turns of phrase and disdain for others.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:36
English to Croatian
+ ...
That's like asking... Nov 23, 2016

Do you think everyone has their own talking or walking style?

Of course they are, a unique style is always visible even in technical texts. How they combine words, preference for certain words, pace, etc.

Evidence: Take one large technical text and split it among 4-5 translators. Show me the result and I will certainly know it's been done by 5 people.

[Edited at 2016-11-23 08:57 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Text analysis is undervalued Nov 23, 2016

In my language pair, English to Spanish (American Spanish, in most cases), most translations I've seen and/or I've been asked to work with do not reflect the translator's style at all. They're so dependent on the English style (good, mediocre or bad) or on the English syntax that the resulting Spanish is practically unreadable.

When I see a text to translate, I have to do the following:

a) Determine the purpose (skopos) of the text
b) Determine what style the original text was written
c) Start writing the translation in the appropriate substyle (technical, legal, financial, etc.) that is germane to the target language
d) In that substyle, I can find my own voice and fashion my own style, but that takes years to develop

Did you take notes? Good, because there will be a quiz afterwards.



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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes and no Nov 23, 2016

I voted yes, because of course we all have our own slightly different ways of putting things when speaking and when writing.

But I could also have voted no, as most translators seem to share the same writing style: stilted, unnatural and all-round poor.

(Glass completely empty today.)


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:36
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
My sentiments too Nov 23, 2016

Chris S wrote:

I voted yes, because of course we all have our own slightly different ways of putting things when speaking and when writing.

But I could also have voted no, as most translators seem to share the same writing style: stilted, unnatural and all-round poor.

(Glass completely empty today.)


But last week the glass was not entirely empty here.
An agency I work for is looking for Danish to English translators, because their business is expanding, and their current freelance partners all seem to be very busy... I was asked to look at some samples, and yes, they were definitely different. The biggest differences were actually between the usable versions (acceptable to excellent, and there WERE some in those categories). The shaky ones all seemed to fall over the same challenges!

It does depend on the source - there were obviously more variations in the press release than in the technical piece.

I know some clients like my personal style, and others don't! One of my oldest and best agency clients has a couple of end clients they never let me work for.


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 09:36
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
I wrote an article about this Nov 23, 2016

You can read it at: http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/2144/1/Finding-your-style

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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Nov 23, 2016

Each person has their own style, common expressions they use regularly, etc. The CAT TMs make that even more evident, as previous translations will be used over and over. One of the things that define one's style is their concern with euphony and accuracy. Many people translate the original text and don't really mind if the outcome will sound like a translation or like an original document written in the target language. Many people do care about euphony and translate messages instead of text. The latter usually have a style of their own.



[Edited at 2016-11-23 17:44 GMT]


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Luiz Barucke
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2013)
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes... Nov 24, 2016

... If they are good.

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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to German
It depends ... Nov 24, 2016

My first (inhouse) job was in software localization, and I was trained to write the one and only end customer's very unnatural style until I spoke it in everyday life. (Back then, I also dreamed at night with a blue bar across the top.)

More than a decade on, I do have my own style and I sometimes defend it against people who want to change it. Which is why I prefer not to see what the proofreader, QA or end customer have made of my text, it almost invariably makes me angry. When it comes to the translation process, I'm all in favor of the generally unloved "waterfall model".

A pet peeve of mine is when people use the German word "Stil" as a synonym of the English word "style". Style is just the way you do something, it's a neutral term without social or emotional connotations (e.g. Cascading Style Sheets, CSS, are a purely technical thing). Stil is always something contrieved, it's the way you write when your text has no content, like the language version of a dandy's clothes. I will cheerfully accept grammatical and terminological guidelines, but calling them "Stil" has a fingernail on blackboard effect on me.


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Poll: Do you think translators each have their very own writing style, regardless of the source text?

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