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Interpreter error in the Behring Breivik Trial used in headlines around the world (source in Norwegian)

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Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:49
Italian to Russian
+ ...
. Apr 21, 2012

The court administration is the owner of obviously wrong translation, which is so widely used...

 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:49
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
good that only that Apr 21, 2012

This is a good example about what can happen saving on translation.

 

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:49
Swedish to English
+ ...
Interpreter error - not Apr 21, 2012

Could the heading of this post please be changed to reflect what actually happened?

As this is a case heard in a Norwegian court and the defendant is a native speaker of Norwegian, there was no interpreter involved.

This is just another case of a Scandinavian, neither translator nor interpreter, who "can English". I.e. someone in the court administration thought their English was good enough to release a statement in English without having it proofed by a native English speaker.

[Edited at 2012-04-21 21:31 GMT]


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 07:49
Chinese to English
Why are they interpreting? Apr 22, 2012

I seem to have missed something obvious here. Why are there interpreters present at a trial of a Norwegian guy in Norway?

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 07:49
Chinese to English
Clarity from Madeleine Apr 22, 2012

MMK emailed me to explain:
(edit: That's Madeleine Klintebo, http://www.proz.com/profile/60074)

Interpreter error - not

Could the heading of this post please be changed to reflect
what actually happened?

As this is a case heard in a Norwegian court and the
defendant is a native speaker of
Norwegian, there was no interpreter involved.

This is just another case of a Scandinavian, neither
translator nor interpreter, who "can
English". I.e. someone in the court administration thought
their English was good enough
to release a statement in English without having it proofed
by a native English speaker.

Thanks!

[Edited at 2012-04-22 13:34 GMT]


 

Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:49
Italian to Russian
+ ...
The matter of glossary Apr 22, 2012

Among 76 victims of last July massacre, there were relatives of very high-ranking persons (the Royal family). It's obvious that this is the matter of selecting glossary for the outside circulation of translated information.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same all over Apr 22, 2012

Phil Hand wrote:
This is just another case of ...neither translator nor interpreter, who "can
English"....


This kind of thing is the bane of my life; am currently having to kowtow to a Spanish native speaker with a very high level of US English who keeps finding fault with my turns of phrase....

[Edited at 2012-04-22 11:49 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:49
Hebrew to English
If I had a penny for every time.... Apr 22, 2012

neilmac wrote:

Phil Hand wrote:
This is just another case of ...neither translator nor interpreter, who "can
English"....


This kind of thing is the bane of my life; am currently having to kowtow to a Spanish native speaker with a very high level of US English who keeps finding fault with my turns of phrase....

[Edited at 2012-04-22 11:49 GMT]


It's so tiresome.

Wendell Ricketts' "Please Mind The Gap" should be required reading.


 

Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Banes banished Apr 22, 2012

I feel your pain Neil.

I've had clients wanting to know the reason for every single change in an edited text, and I've felt like telling them that I charge separately for English lessons.

In the end, I give them their reasons and then they simply go on a black list, and I would need to be very hard up indeed before I found time to work on their projects again.


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 01:49
Swedish to English
It's a rum do Apr 23, 2012

Keep your pecker up! U.K. or U.S. style -- or both, if you can.

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Non-native translators (reflections on *Mind the Gap*) Apr 24, 2012

Thank you, Ty, for the recommendation. My only criticism of the article is that it could have more effectively made the same points in about half the space.

The piece resonates for me in two important ways. One of the things I do (and it is more difficult than a typical translation) is edit the non-native English of Dutch academics and university students. I've found that, initially, these clients are invariably surprised at the level of correction required for their writing. I think that this results from both the lack of respect for the native/non-native distinction, and the disdain for English, that Ricketts describes.

Thus, in the best of cases, what I find in the papers I edit are sentences whose intended meaning is more or less evident, but that require a great deal of reworking in order to be rendered in decent English. And in the worst case, the writing is simply so unintelligible that the intended meaning cannot even be guessed, and I have to ask the writer for clarification.

Then there is the common phenomenon, readily visible on this site, of translators offering their services into English when the latter is not their native tongue, and when their forum posts, kudoz contributions, and even profile texts betray a fundamentally faulty grasp of the language.

Like Ricketts, I am willing to ignore the reliance on non-natives in pairs involving “limited diffusion” languages, so let’s just focus on translation of the most common non-English languages into English: Is it not astonishing—and even disturbing—that so many claim linguistic competence (and even native ability) to translate into English? Doesn’t this in the end really cheapen the product of “into English” translation? And doesn’t the enabling of such readily falsifiable claims by this site constitute complicity in the cheapening of the product?

I think that these questions are worthy of the most sober reflection.


[Edited at 2012-04-24 14:51 GMT]


 

Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:49
Italian to Russian
+ ...
Subjectivity of decency Apr 24, 2012

Hi Robert,
You wrote that some input texts' "meaning is more or less evident, but that require a great deal of reworking in order to be rendered in decent English ." I believe that this is exactly what the court did, when they "reviewed" the words said by the defendant before the court, from native into native for foreign use. In your phrase there is only one constant: the meaning of the input text. The remainder is variable, or I'd say highly volatile, especially the word "decent".


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:49
Hebrew to English
Only in English Apr 24, 2012

Gennady Lapardin wrote:
from native into native for foreign use.


...would this dichotomy be "accepted". If I'm reading, or listening or speaking Hebrew, I don't want it to be a simplified version of Hebrew, I want it to be the Hebrew that Israelis are speaking in Israel right now - not "pidgin" Hebrew. I'm perfectly capable - even as a non-native speaker - of handling it.

I really don't understand why the same situation doesn't apply for non-native speakers of English (who bang on about how great their skills in English are), but somehow require a simplified version of it?

This is evident in this news story - where one Norwegian word is haphazardly lumped with another (as far as I can tell). This is what happens when you treat a language with such flippancy i.e. someone who "can do" the language thinks they can actually translate/interpret.

There's nothing wrong with demanding "decent" English, or "decent" Norwegian or..etc.

[Edited at 2012-04-25 13:54 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Decency" Apr 24, 2012

My notion of "decent" English is identical to Ty's notion of "decent" Hebrew: i.e., language that would come out of the mouth or flow off the pen of a native educated speaker of the language.

Only a tiny percentage of non-native speakers have the ability to reliably produce English at this level. No shame in this at all. The shame is in the arrogance implicit in either an almarmingly inflated conception of one's abilities, or in the notion that there really is no important difference between a grotesquely defective version and a correct version of a given language.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:49
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The way I understood it, the error occurred in Norwegian, not in translation Apr 24, 2012

As others have pointed out, there was no interpreter.

Norwegian law operates with two concepts, nødrett and nødverge.

Whether Breivik can successfully claim he acted under either is not for me to say, though I definitely have my own opinion. I am not an expert on Norwegian law. But I can to some extent read Norwegian, and I have read similar explanations in Danish, which operates with similar concepts.

Some of the victims were Danish, and there has been an identical confusion in the Danish press, which barely needs a translation from Norwegian - there are just slight differences in the spelling.
(Nodrett/nødret and nødverge/nødværge).
The two expressions are used as if they were complete synonyms in the Danish press.

Nødverge is self defence, or defence of another person in the face of an attack by a person, while nødret, the word used by Breivik, is an act intended to prevent some greater accident or harm of a different sort.
It would take an expert to explain in English here, and there may be differences between the two legal systems as well.

The points of law are quite fine in Danish and Norwegian, and I think the error lies there. I wonder how many native Scandinavians could explain the difference in their own language if you stopped them in the street and asked.

Even with a training in translating Danish law into English, I admit that I would have difficulty in either language myself, as it is not an area of law that I know much about.

But as far as I can see, this is not a case of non-natives translating into English. It is the basic question of journalists and non-experts who do not distinguish the specialist terms in their own language.

Correct me if I am wrong, anyone who knows more Norwegian than I do, but that is how I have understood the situation.


[Edited at 2012-04-25 09:25 GMT]


 
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