Is there anything that shouldn’t be translated?

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:26
Russian to English
+ ...
If someone wants to translate anything word for word they are automatically disqualified Jul 21, 2016

as any translation professional or reputable translation agency. So, yes, the authors are definitely not translation people, or professionals. I think companies should only translate what they deem essential. Translating just about anything is a total waste of money and human effort. It also drives the prices down, meaning rates paid to translators. Is there anything in a more sublime sense that should not be translated—no, even the worst, the most prejudiced type of texts should be translated so that people know what is going on in the world, and what others are up to.

[Edited at 2016-07-21 09:46 GMT]


Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 05:26
German to English
+ ...
puzzled Jul 21, 2016

LilianNekipelov wrote:

So, yes, the authors are definitely not translation people, or professionals.

[Edited at 2016-07-21 09:46 GMT]

My impression, reading the article, was the opposite. The writer very thoroughly explained the kinds of choices that translators make, and why. Can you point out anything specific that the author wrote that you don't agree with? I found it a well written article. I only questioned why one would explain all this to one's clients.


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
English to Hindi
+ ...
Brand and product names Jul 21, 2016

Many clients insist that brand and product names, should be left in English in the Hindi translation. But I personally feel that this is ill-informed and counter-productive, and ultimately harms their brand image. The reason is the Hindi script bears no resemblance to the English script, and few Hindi-speakers have sufficient proficiency over the English script to be able to read with ease text left in the Hindi translation in English. To them such text just appears like blotches of ink, that has no meaning. It even affects the overall comprehensibility of the document, as any document splattered with gibberish in an unfamiliar language would intimidate the reader and make life difficult for him in understanding what is written there. To better understand this, image a marketing text in English meant for UK audience in which all product and brand names are written in the Devnagari script of Hindi. These portions would be completely unreadable to the English-speaking UK audience. Same is the case when brand names are left in English in Hindi documents meant for an Hindi-knowing audience.

Some product names are full phrases or even sentences, and when left in English in the Hindi document can play havoc with the communicability of the translation.

The reason behind this stupid insistence is basically ignorance and is based on several misconceptions:

1. English is widely understood in every part of the world - this is of course untrue, and even in English speaking countries it is barely understood by many people.

2. Leaving brand names and product names in English contributes to the brand value - actually the opposite is true, if these are written in Hindi they would become more familiar to Hindi speakers as they would be able to read and understand them and therefore identify themselves more closely with the brands and products. Also, by not using the power of Hindi, the brands are losing a massive opportunity at brand propagation among the Hindi speakers.

3. Brand names and product names need to be left in English as they are trade marks and this is a legal requirement to protect the intellectual property of the company - again this is a stupid argument as the company could easily spent some more money and register the Hindi versions of their brand and product names as trademarks. This would provide much greater legal protection to the brand names. There is also the danger that some mischievous or malicious element may register the Hindi versions of brand names as their copyrights or trademarks and benefit in the Hindi market from the popularity of the global brand. To prevent this, companies should themselves register their brand names in Hindi.

Needless to say, I am with the school that believes in translating everything in the source document into Hindi, including brand names, product names, proper names, etc. The only concession I would give is to transliterate brand names and product names that have no meaning. Anything that has meaning should be translated into Hindi.

Of course many clients specifically insist on the contrary (in their ignorance) and I have to comply with their request as customer is king, but I always pity them for their costly mistake, and sometime even try to dissuade them from this folly, and I do succeed at times.

[Edited at 2016-07-21 17:09 GMT]


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:26
Swedish to English
+ ...
Academic qualifications should not be translated Jul 22, 2016

To add to Balasubramaniam's list, I would argue that academic qualifications (such as a degree) should not be translated. By translating it, you are implying that the degrees mentioned in the source and target are equivalent. Who are you to judge in tricky situations like this? Much better and safer is to leave the original untranslated, but with some sort of explanation in brackets. For example, "Germanistik (German studies)".


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:26
Member (2007)
+ ...
Interesting read Jul 25, 2016

Maxi Schwarz wrote:
The writer very thoroughly explained the kinds of choices that translators make, and why.
. . .
I found it a well written article. I only questioned why one would explain all this to one's clients.

I certainly don't see it as obligatory reading matter for all end clientsicon_smile.gif. However, most of us would recognise the end client who is totally monolingual and monocultural and who complains that what they're getting doesn't make any sense when they back-translate it using GoogeTranslate. Even worse are the clients who have a basic idea of the target language and expect every common word to have one, and only one, translation. It could be a useful link for them to receive.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 27, 2016

Dodgy, badly scanned PDFs.


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