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Phonetics and Translation
Thread poster: Lincoln Burrows
Oct 2, 2011

Is it helpful or necessary for a translator to know "Phonetics"? Why (not)?
Thanks.


 

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 02:13
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Pronunciation helps spelling and vice versa Oct 3, 2011

In many languages (especially French) you know how to spell if you know the pronunciation of the word. Examples: téléphone (many would write telephone), le, les, regarder etc.
Also if you know the spelling, you know how to pronounce. Examples: See above.

I could give lots of examples in German and Swedish whereas English is a morass.
Bernard Shaw did once prove that 'cough' could be pronounced 'fish' (by picking helping examples (please find the story for us!)

Mats


[Edited at 2011-10-03 09:28 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 07:13
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
UK and US English etc. Oct 3, 2011

Phonetic symbols give me hints on variance of the language that easily understood but they are generally untranslatable.
Soonthon L.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Hebrew to English
Ghoti spells fish.... Oct 3, 2011

This is the story Mats is referring to:

"Ghoti is a constructed word used to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish: i.e., it is supposed to be pronounced /ˈfɪʃ/. It comprises these phonemes:

gh, pronounced /f/ as in tough /tʌf/;
o, pronounced /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and
ti, pronounced /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈne͡ɪʃən/."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti

Also....
a sound knowledge of phonetics and phonology is an asset for any linguist....

...it doesn't always help with spelling if the language in question isn't phonetic (spelt the way it sounds) like English.
Spanish is quite a phonetic language so it would be of use there, as with any other language where there is a close correlation between spelling and pronunciation.

Phonetics are the building blocks of any and all languages, so it's hard to argue against having some knowledge about it. You'll definitely find it an advantage when it comes to: learning languages, teaching languages and translating languages.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
L'italiano è una lingua quasi perfettamente fonetica. Oct 3, 2011

Lincoln Burrows wrote:

Is it helpful or necessary for a translator to know "Phonetics"? Why (not)?
Thanks.


Italian is an almost perfectly phonetic language. With very few exceptions, the way in which a word is written is exactly the way in which it is pronounced. The key to speaking good Italian is to pronounce " A - E - I - O - U" phonetically and not with the distortions of the vowels that we find in other languages.

The title I have given to this post is pronounced exactly as it is written.

[Edited at 2011-10-03 13:41 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
disagree Oct 3, 2011

Mats Wiman wrote:

In many languages (especially French) you know how to spell if you know the pronunciation of the word. Examples: téléphone (many would write telephone), le, les, regarder etc.

Mats


Mats: the French word "téléphone" is in fact pronounced "telefon". "Les" is pronounced "Lé" and "regarder" is pronounced "regardé".

What REALLY annoys me is the mispronunciation (by Americans and more recently by under-prepared English people) of "lingerie" as "lonjerré".

Ugh.

[Edited at 2011-10-03 12:25 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:13
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It may be helpful with some languages, but is not necessary. Oct 3, 2011

My father calls them Funny Ticks.

His experience with phonetics and Marathi was that it was far easier to learn and use the Marathi alphabet. Likewise New Testament Greek, which he never spoke: it was his written source language.

He preferred the 'real' alphabets for all the languages he worked with, though he admitted phonetics could be useful with Chinese. (But there he insisted on having an interpreter...)

Influenced by this attitude throughout my childhood, I have never really got to grips with phonetics myself. Of course, I know the GHOTI story, and believed as a small child that it was probably Greek or Hindi for fish... I probably mixed it up somehow with the Icthys symbol - ΙΧΘΥΣ - Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ.

Admittedly, phonetics might be a help with English, but as Mats says, English is a morass. First decide which dialect or variety of English you are aiming at, because otherwise you are asking for trouble ... and that is why no one will ever seriously succeed in reforming English spelling in the foreseeable future!

I find phonetics very distracting with Scandinavian languages - the Swedish alphabet is OK, and with Norwegian and Danish it's far easier to ask one of the natives when in doubt! Phonetics can never quite reflect all the shades of soft d or guttural r, not to mention the extraordinary spectrum of vowels that Danish goes in for.

In the languages I can read, the normal spelling is much more helpful from a translator's point of view, giving clues to etymology and other linguistic details. I work on paper, and pronunciation is not always of first importance.

icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2011-10-03 14:49 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Webster Oct 3, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:

..... no one will ever seriously succeed in reforming English spelling in the foreseeable future


Webster made a good stab at rationalising it with American English. But he didn't go far. I mean for example "rationalise" became "rationalize" but not "racionalize".

[Edited at 2011-10-03 14:33 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:13
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Phonetics can surprise even natives Nov 8, 2011

Non-linguists never even think about how they pronounce their native language. To me it was a surprise that the German (ch) after e and i (ich, Pech) is the same phoneme as "j" in words like "ja, jeder" (English "year"), only none-voiced, the larynx not vibrating.

For many non-natives the pronunciation of "ich" is a stumble-stone.

I believe all language studies should begin with phonetics, it paves the way to understanding spoken language and encourages to speak oneself.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
English to German
+ ...
Webster's Nov 8, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
Webster made a good stab at rationalising it with American English. But he didn't go far. I mean for example "rationalise" became "rationalize" but not "racionalize".

[Edited at 2011-10-03 14:33 GMT]


Webster's made indeed a stab at explaining that French words such as "garage" are not supposed to be brutalized in their pronunciation as it happens in the UK where the soft sound of ɡəˈrɑːʒ/ gə-rahzh turns into an ear-grinding ˈɡærɨdʒ/ garr-ij.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
English to German
+ ...
Watching too many gangsta movies? Nov 8, 2011

Tom in London wrote:

What REALLY annoys me is the mispronunciation (by Americans and more recently by under-prepared English people) of "lingerie" as "lonjerré".


icon_smile.gif


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Hebrew to English
Missing the point Nov 8, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
Webster made a good stab at rationalising it with American English. But he didn't go far. I mean for example "rationalise" became "rationalize" but not "racionalize".

[Edited at 2011-10-03 14:33 GMT]


Webster's made indeed a stab at explaining that French words such as "garage" are not supposed to be brutalized in their pronunciation as it happens in the UK where the soft sound of ɡəˈrɑːʒ/ gə-rahzh turns into an ear-grinding ˈɡærɨdʒ/ garr-ij.


I think you're missing the point of the brutalization.
We do it on purpose.

To annoy the French.
Seems to workicon_smile.gif


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Hebrew to English
Anglicisation Nov 8, 2011

In addition, I think perhaps "brutalization" is a bit harsh. I prefer "Anglicisation". The -age suffix, whilst originating from French, is now part of English and it's only natural for it to undergo Anglicisation to a more Anglo-Saxon sounding " -ɪʤ ".

After all, the French do their fair share of murdering English pronunciation, so we have to do our bit tooicon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Webster Nov 8, 2011

Actually Webster, in his rationalis(z)ation of the English language, was very much in tune with the French Enlightenment. I don't think there was any intention on his part to annoy "the French". Or anyone else.

 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
English to German
+ ...
Nobody is missing the point. Nov 8, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:

I think you're missing the point of the brutalization.
We do it on purpose.

To annoy the French.
Seems to workicon_smile.gif


Who could possibly miss those ongoing little petty linguistic wars? "Bifteck" here, "garadge" there. Yawn...

How come that such things never occur among the Swiss, the Austrians and the Germans? Three language variants, and nobody cares.

I am, however, tired of this ongoing America-bashing. It is always amazing to see how some people from the other hemisphere know exactly how 300+ million Americans across an entire continent pronounce individual words. Quite an achievement after watching some US soaps and movies.

icon_smile.gif


 
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