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Poll: What is your highest priority when translating?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:21
SITE STAFF
Nov 15, 2005

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is your highest priority when translating?".

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A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
All of the above Nov 15, 2005

I had to answer "other", because my reply is "all of the above". I do not compromise on any of the factors mentioned, and to emphasize one would diminish the others.

Perhaps this can be illustrated by the statement: "A translation is like a woman, if it is beautiful it is not faithful, and if it is faithful it is not beautiful".

I've never believed it. My reaction is that it all depends on how we work with them. They can be both.

Of course there are different styles and emphases that need to be adopted for different types of materials and audiences, but that is a different question.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:21
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fidelity has to come first! Nov 15, 2005

I'm assuming that by "fidelity" you mean faithfulness to semantic meaning, not syntax. Eugene Nida said: "Meaning [= his "informative function"] must be given priority, for it is the content of the message which is of prime importance" (Nida, Eugene A. The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: Brill, 1974, p. 13). Nida's "dynamic equivalence" is sometimes misinterpreted. Nida intended the concept of "dynamic equivalence" to encompass three functions: informative, expressive, and imperative. True "dynamic equivalence" has not been achieved until all three functions of the text have been captured, but if the basic information is wrong, the entire effort fails.

I strongly believe that we are honor-bound to be clear on the original idea above all else. Suitability for the intended purpose is part of our job, but we can't take off on tangents before really understanding the original concepts. All too often I see KudoZ suggestions chosen because they "sound" natural, even though the underlying meaning has been missed.


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xxxtarpo
English to Dutch
As Henry: all of the above Nov 15, 2005

If not, it is not a good translation, in my opinion. Can't choose.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Eeeny, meeny, miney, mo... Nov 15, 2005

I'd like an 'all of the above' option too, but in the end I voted for 'fitness for the intended purpose' after quite a lot of deliberation. I see this as the absolutely most important issue.

I decided too that it included the other options by taking a view of the whole. But 'fidelity to the source text' has been discussed and will be discussed as long as there are translators. Again, it depends on your target group, who may not be the same as the target group in the source language...

Two clients have complained recently because I did not translate their texts 'exactly' according to the little red dictionary... (I didn't tell them to use BabelFish, but I did convince them I actually knew what I was doing).

Many of us 'translate the meaning, not just the words' - which does mean putting the source text across faithfully, but if the source text was written by an expert in some field for his/her expert colleagues, it may be too specialised for the clients who need to know what it says in order to base their decisions on it, but are experts in a completely different field.

My translation might end up being a faithful explanation for laymen rather than a text in English for the original writer's expert peers... With all the traps and pitfalls that involves


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:21
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Badly designed poll Nov 15, 2005

Hi all,

I abstained from entering my vote as I fully agree with the remarks of the other contributors to this thread who were in favour of "all of the above". The three aspects mentioned are closely interlinked - they cannot be separated from each other. So "All of the above" would have been the only possible answer IMHO (a translation would not at all fit its intended purpose if it were of poor grammatical and stylistic quality).

Steffen

[Edited at 2005-11-15 09:57]


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:21
Italian to English
+ ...
catch-all term Nov 15, 2005

If a translation is full of grammatical errors, badly written and veers off at tangents it is obviously not fit for its purpose!!

Let's do a poll on something else, how about "what percentage of your time do you spend answering kudoz or reading the forums when you should be working?"


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 09:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
another vote for "all of the above" Nov 15, 2005

As far as I'm concerned, all of these are absolutely essential and none of them can be given more or less priority than any other.

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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
Fitness for purpose does not necessarily implicate the other options Nov 15, 2005

If a quick understanding of a piece of text is needed, then grammar and style are not that important (that's why there is a market for machine translation)

If the purpose of a text is to sell a product (marketing), then fidelity to the source is probably second to style.

I'd prioritize according to what the translation is meant to do.

[Edited at 2005-11-15 10:24]


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xxxtarpo
English to Dutch
The poll is not addressed to machines Nov 15, 2005

Johan Jongman wrote:

If a quick understanding of a piece of text is needed, then grammar and style are not that important (that's why there is a market for machine translation)

If the purpose of a text is to sell a product (marketing), then fidelity to the source is probably second to style.

I'd prioritize according to what the translation is meant to do.

[Edited at 2005-11-15 10:24]

But to human translators, supposed to be professional. I'm sorry, but even in marketing texts fidelity to source is essential, you don't have the right to tell customers what you like. A good translation = all of the three options, if not something essential is missing.


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xxxAWa
Local time: 09:21
English to German
+ ...
Fitness for the purpose... Nov 15, 2005

...is my priority, meaning that i try to convey the content of the original, not necessarily the exact style (explanation below).

Correct use of grammar/style to me simply is a perequisite for working as a translator.

Fidelity to the source text depends on the purpose:

With contracts, legal documents and the like is necessary so that the text can be used for its intended purpose.

As for technical texts, I repeatedly had to deal with documents in which one sentence filled three quarters of a page. The writer had included all kinds of explanations in subordinate clauses, in brackets or dashes and so on. Of course, I cleaned up that style in the translation making several sentences out of one in the original. I also marked these sentences in the original and sent it back to my contact at the client, who adjusted the original accordingly. She was really happy that she did not have to read the complete jumbled original herself.


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:21
Italian to English
+ ...
I agree Nov 15, 2005

Johan Jongman wrote:

If the purpose of a text is to sell a product (marketing), then fidelity to the source is probably second to style.


I totally agree. In marketing style sells. But people market products in different styles in different countries (Italian and English styles vary hugely, to take just one example). It would also depend on the product in question - an aircraft part wouldn't necessarily be marketed in the same way as a fragrance. Eek. I had to answer "other". Who came up with this poll?!

[Edited at 2005-11-15 11:25]


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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
All three are essential, but... Nov 15, 2005

tarpo wrote:
But to human translators, supposed to be professional. I'm sorry, but even in marketing texts fidelity to source is essential, you don't have the right to tell customers what you like. A good translation = all of the three options, if not something essential is missing.


Of course all three are essential. What I'm saying is that in some cases one factor might be more essential than another. To me it's not a question of 'compromising', just a matter of according an even higher priority to one thing without relegating the importance of another.

Fitness for the purpose might also involve other things than fidelity or grammar/style. One example would be when you have to deal with length restrictions. Your translation might be spot-on style-wise and grammar-wise and fidelity-wise, but if it's too long, then it isn't fit for the purpose for which the translation was commissioned. It may be necessary to cut out information, affecting the fidelity, or to revert to a less-than-ideal telegram style to make the translation fit.

At the end of the day, the fitness for the purpose for which an end customer orders a translation is the only thing most end customers will care about (and to them, certain things might be more important than grammar/style, etc.)... Being a customer-focussed professional means taking that into account.


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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
Poll Nov 15, 2005

Amy Williams wrote:

Who came up with this poll?!

[Edited at 2005-11-15 11:25]


I did - just wanted to see what people think is important in a translation.


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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
All of the above Nov 15, 2005

Another one for all of the above plus more.

P.
www.pbayle.com/blogs


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