Would a new effective writing skills forum be a good idea?
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:14
German to English
May 6, 2006

Many of our members are particularly fine writers and have a lot to offer others on the subject of the art of effective writing. Writing is one of the most important skills a translator needs to be successful, and becoming a better writer is a never-ending process. I don't think writing is given the status it deserves often enough.

The forum might cover tips on writing in one's target language. It wouldn't be a grammar and usage forum for people learning a second language but a forum for translator/writers seeking to share their experiences and wishing to learn how to become better writers in the language they translate into.

I suppose for our multi-national/lingual site we'd probably need several such forums, just as we now have non-English forums for many different languages. What do you guys think?

Here are some excerpts from two interesting articles on the subject:

Is a translator a writer? Oh, definitely so. If we accept translation as the attempt to move the soul of a text into a different body (more difficult than a brain transplant!) we can see how much of a writer a translator really is. No one without the writer's touch will be able to handle this delicate and subtle operation, and the subsequent creation owes its life to the translator as well as the original author.
Maya Mirsky


Writing - A Crucial Aspect of the Translation Process
Good style is an essential part of efficient communication: Product translations written in language that meets the expectations of the reader/user reduce the review work required and minimize support needs. In fact, an accurate and well-translated document (product) is a document that appears to have been written in the native language of the reader/user from the outset.
In this sense, the "writer-translator" should possess the skills required to convey information and instructions to the user according to certain principles resulting in clarity, accuracy and readability.
In your role as writer-translator, you must transfer information to the readers/users in such a way as to give them complete confidence in your mastery of the subject matter.


[Edited at 2006-05-06 19:16]


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
German to English
+ ...
Love the idea, not sure of the practicalities May 6, 2006

I enjoy creative writing (actually, I do more of it in my source language German than in my native language English - that's what you get for being the editor and layout person for a monthly church magazine).

I also enjoy making creative use of language in my translation work and getting the text to flow (aiming for the effect of a text that doesn't look "translated"). I even aim for a good style in legal and real estate texts. And I enjoy the KudoZ questions that involve a discussion of style and usage. And some forums are good places to have a little fling in creative wording, too.

But how could I learn new tricks and pass on what I have learned in such a forum? I'm not sure how it could be structured. I don't suppose we need a style manual, a teaching forum or people taking the role of instructors or coaches, and if technical literary terms are heavily used this might put off folks (like me) who treat writing more as an art than a science.

In a creative writing forum for translators, many topics are likely to affect language pairs rather than single languages, so it could be a bit tricky to categorise and index the forum. And of course there could be an overlap between creative writing issues and some KudoZ questions.

So yes, Kim, your idea touches a nerve, although I am not sure where it could lead and how it could get there.

[Edited at 2006-05-06 19:57]


Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
agree (sadly) with Victor May 6, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

So yes, Kim, your idea touches a nerve, although I am not sure where it could lead and how it could get there.

[Edited at 2006-05-06 19:57]

I agree with Victor, Kim, don't see how it would work in practice.

Partly becuase good writing is actually very difficult to pin down and has to be viewed in context and maybe even at the textual level. What's more, in order to be discussed it requires a handle on the terminology of grammar and linguistics, and I think most of us are doers rather than academics. I recently was told I had a good handle on 'theme' and 'rheme' but still had to go back to a dictionary to remind myself what these meant, as it's about 4 years since I last used these words:-)

For the first time in my life I'm actively involved in translation followed by rounds of feeback and editing: I translate, I'm edited, I read the comments, I accept/reject/comment back, and we thrash out 'good writing' + correct style and terminology between us. I think that really is the only way to learn.

We really could use input on writing, the really bad translations around are ample evidence......so looking forward to your next comments Kim:-)


Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:14
German to English
Pesky practicalities May 7, 2006

Ah, yes, those pesky practicalities. I suppose my idea was somehow to find a way to give the subject of writing/rhetoric more prominence on this site for translators and to call attention to the fact that it is an indispensable skill that needs constant honing.

Thanks for your comments, Victor and Lia. I don't know if such a forum would work. But here's what I had in mind:

A writing forum might be a good place to debate George Orwell's thoughts on style and usage or provide tips on what a translator can do to improve his writing skills. It would be a good place to discuss what some professionals consider abominable writing – corpspeak: http://www.internebbish.com/words.htm etc. Or provide links to resources for writers http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/links.html


+ ...
Book Sep 19, 2006

I'm looking for an academic book on the topic of how to write better. Any ideas?


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