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Poll: Have you ever translated from (or into) a language you do not master?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:01
SITE STAFF
Jan 12

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever translated from (or into) a language you do not master?".

This poll was originally submitted by Paola Giardina. View the poll results »



 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 12

At conferences, several times I was called on to translate from French. I was veeeery careful! (I did study the language for 3 years in high school/college, but I was rusty when I was asked to translate it and I've never used it professionally.)

 

Edith van der Have-Raats  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:01
Member (2016)
English to Dutch
+ ...
It depends on what 'master' means ... Jan 12

... if it means being able to speak/write the particular language: yes, I have done so. I have a passive command of written Danish and Norwegian. I have translated documentation about crop protection, i.e. my 'hyper specialisation', from these languages into English and Dutch.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:01
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Many times, as college exercises Jan 12

It is in fact a very good way of familiarising yourself with a language, and in a class where there is no time for everyone to say a lot, it gives all the students a chance to prepare a version of what hey would have said.

It forces students to check grammar and inflections instead of just slurring over them... For the right reasons, everyone should do it. I can't learn a language without translating into it in the early stages, and probably most people can't. We should not let students become so frightened of making mistakes that they never get to master a language.

Later on, there may be situations where an imperfect solution is better than no solution at all. But that is another matter. Human or machine, take your choice! I would probably give the human a chance first.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:01
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Jan 12

I answered no because I haven’t done that for over 30 years, but in the very beginning I did translate into French and English. Though I’m quite fluent in French and fluent in English I don’t master those languages like an educated native speaker…

 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Yes from Portuguese Jan 12

But not professionally, just for checking the similarity of romance languages

 

Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 01:01
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Yes, sort of Jan 12

I am an English to German translator, but so far I have also been asked to translate subtitles for 2 Turkish TV series, an Argentinian (Spanish) feature film and a French opera -- I was working with English subtitle templates, however.
I had to get a bit creative here and there...

[Edited at 2018-01-12 09:47 GMT]


 

Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
Italian to English
+ ...
one big job, never again Jan 12

My knowledge of German is pretty basic, being all self-taught.

I once let myself be convinced by an agency to translate the instructions of a fairground ride from German into English.
I got it done in the end with the aid of German colleagues and family members in Austria, but it took far too long.
So not worth the bother.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 12

On one occasion, a (French) client specialising in fruit and veg asked me to translate a short text from Italian to English, although it isn't one of my working languages, and I've never studied it or even been to the country. He had asked me about Italian translation before, and when I said it wasn't one of my languages, he had responded along the lines of "but it's more or less the same as Spanish", which I found amusing at the time, while refusing the job.
However, on this other occasion he was quite desperate, as his usual Italian translators were not available and he needed to get this article into the current issue of his magazine. So, I grudgingly agreed to have a pop at it, as I am very familiar with the subject matter, having translated several articles of a similar kind from Spanish over the years. The text didn't seem all that complicated and although I had to resort to the dictionary and Google translate, I quickly got a draft together. However, I asked my Spanish colleague, who knows a bit more Italian than I do, to check my effort before handing it in, and she informed me to my chagrin that "meló", which I'd blithely assumed must mean melon, is actually an apple tree, and although the rest of the text was properly translated, I had apple trees as melons all the way through!
Funnily enough, another client, working with several European and international customers and branches, sent me a text to translate from Spanish yesterday and the last two paragraphs, roughly 200 words, were still in Italian. I sent them an email last night saying I could do it using MT if they were stuck, but didn't they already have an Italian translator? This morning they sent me the two paragraphs duly translated into Spanish, with an apology. So, it just goes to show that, like the Scorpion in the fable, I just can't help myself, and - albeit against my better judgement - I would probably have a go at translating Martian if one of my regular clients asked me to do so...icon_smile.gif

PS: I have one client who sends me software strings for translation and sometimes amongst the Spanish ones there are sentences or odd phrases which appear in other languages such as Portuguese, French, German or others. I can usually handle these using the online resources and dictionaries available, although if I'm unsure, I can always report them back to the client. And, just the other day, when revising an academic text for publication, written in English by foreign authors, a rogue sentence appeared in Hungarian in one of the table legends, which seemed to be a comment from a previous reviewer addressed to the authors. I translated it using Google and reported it to the client (editing team of a scientific journal).
My point here is that with the plethora of language and translation assistance technology available nowadays, things are possible today which would have been unthinkable forty or fifty years ago... for better or worse.


[Edited at 2018-01-12 11:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 11:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-01-12 12:32 GMT]


 

Robert Wijngaarde
Brazil
Local time: 20:01
Dutch to Portuguese
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


The outsourcer knew. Jan 12

He knew I didn't master it, he insisted and complained after the job.

 

peter jackson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:01
Spanish to English
Yes Jan 12

I recently translated the abstract of an academic paper from Spanish into Portuguese, having previously translated it into English. Although my degree is in Hispanic Studies, I have not written a word in Portuguese since graduating in ...... With judicious use of Google Scholar, it was actually quite simple. That said, I would probably not do it again.

 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:01
Member (2006)
German to English
Yes Jan 12

Once for a regular customer after they kept annoying me.
The outcome was not so good which is the reason why I let them annoy me to sleep now.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:01
Member (2006)
German to English
Exactly the same happened to me Jan 12

Robert Wijngaarde wrote:

He knew I didn't master it, he insisted and complained after the job.


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Not for a... Jan 12

In my youth, I helped organizing an international relay, and I received the documentation (to be submitted to local authorities) in Italian.
And when travelling with my husband or a friend who knows no foreign language at all, I have to translate basic things (e.g., menus) for them from German, Spanish... to the extent I understand them myself, which is not a lot, but enough to find something that I understand and that we both find acceptable.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:01
English to Russian
+ ...
From - yes, into - never Jan 12

I firmly believe one should not translate into one's non-native language. On the other hand, more than once did a client ask me to translate a document in one of my core subject fields from a language closely related to one of my usual source languages, and it merely took me more time and more double-checking, but the client was completely satisfied with the quality. I mean e.g. Norwegian Bokmål based on my knowledge of Danish, or Ukrainian based on my knowledge of Russian and Czech. After several successful jobs of this kind, I would include the new language into my list of working pairs and then gradually progress from straightforward texts to trickier ones.

 
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