Frustrating result due to layout
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:55
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Oct 3, 2008

I hope this is the appropriate forum!

Yesterday I received the printed copies of a translation I delivered last autumn. First I was delighted, but later I looked closer at the thing and got sad.

This was a rather big job, which was translated from Finnish into a lot of languages. I did the German translation. The text was for tourists who visit this part of the country for trekking. The original text was very tight, including many expressions that are specific for the rural life of a hundred years ago. The file was delivered as a simple Word-file, divided into 35 chapters.

The deadline was not strict, but I spent a lot more time on this assignment than I had anticipated (and was paid for). But I didn't care, because it was challenging. In fact the colleague who did the English version and who is much more experienced than I told me that he had never before encountered such challenging task.

My German text was about 10 percent longer than the Finnish original. The English version was 13 percent longer than my German.

But when I saw the printed booklet I noticed the font of the German copy had been reduced to keep the text within the frames of the layout, it made for a difficult read. I haven't seen the English version yet.
The layout had wasted a lot of space for big headings in every chapter and all kinds of decorations. Blocks of text were inverted as white on a dark colored background, making it even more difficult to read.

I told my wife about my frustration. Why didn't you ask them at the start, how this will be published? You could have shortened the text or they could have shortened the original.

Yes, why didn't I ask? It just didn't occur to me. And shortening such a text would have been difficult, since it was written by an expert. Probably the layout was not decided when the stuff was translated, so nobody could have anticipated this result.

My advice to those who decide about layout: Look at the longest translation, make sure it fits well and the readers will be happy.


PS. Chrome has online spellerchecker, so I was able to avoid a lot of mistakes in this posting. It doesn't like the word spellerchecker, but underlines it, but I let it stand, at least for a spell.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:55
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Commiserate Oct 3, 2008

I commiserate with you. It is sad and frustrating to see a job that you put your heart and soul into (and we do that sometimes) end up like that. I have had a similar thing happen with translation of websites. When I look at them sometime later, everything has been changed, mistakes have krept in, etc. But you have to break that emotional attachment and let it go.

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LP Schumacher  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
German to English
Disappointment Oct 4, 2008

Sorry about your disappointment, Heinrich. I'm sure many others can relate, too!

Tina Vonhof wrote:
I have had a similar thing happen with translation of websites. When I look at them sometime later, everything has been changed, mistakes have krept in, etc. But you have to break that emotional attachment and let it go.

Tina's comment comes quite timely, as I just faced this myself yesterday with a website I had translated. You really want to make the end customer look good, and then they go and get "creative," obviously not letting a native speaker look over it again afterwards.

I suppose it's fortunate that in many cases we don't even see what the client does with the work we deliver. Saves us some frustration, especially if we cannot control the situation.

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Thierry Destinobles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
German to French
+ ...
beware of websites Nov 4, 2008


I can understand your frustration. Although it's for someone else, we feel related to the text we translated. A couple of years ago, I translated a website for an organization. Since they were happy with my work, I included that reference on my resume.
A few months ago, I was checking my resume, and I wanted to have a peek at the website I translated. Everything was gone, as there was a new version of the site, without any translation!!!

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Frustrating result due to layout

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