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"all you have to do when in doubt regarding terminology is to do a Google search." Thoughts?
Thread poster: gad

gad
United States
Local time: 00:57
Member
French to English
Aug 19, 2009

I just had the strangest situation with another translator. This person insists that all you have to do when in doubt regarding terminology is to do a Google search.

First of all, the way she stated this was kind of insulting - as if I don't already do Google searches as part of my research. She actually thought she was giving me a "tip".

So I nicely replied and explained that the Internet is full of poor and literal translations, and that many times researching terminology - particularly specialized terminology - is really not as simple as just a Google search. I stated that it's necessary to research terminology using specialized bilingual dictionaries as well (of course, among other resources which I didn't even get into mentioning).

This translator, who supposedly has years of experience and I guess considers herself to be a good, quality translator, replied by attacking me in an extremely nasty tone. Among other things that I won't reprint here, she said that once I have her level of experience then perhaps I will humble myself to open my mind instead of being so touchy. (Don't ask me how I was "touchy" when all I did was state facts in a neutral tone and nothing about feelings or anything else.)

I am just so stunned. Where do I start? I mean, it's bad enough that there is a translator who actually believes that all you do is a Google search and there you go, the answer is there. But the fact that this is someone who considers herself to be an experienced translator...I find that unreal. (Then not to mention the unprofessionalism in replying with a personal attack to something that wasn't the least bit person.) This woman actually thinks I'm supposed to be grateful for the "advice" she gave me. Seriously?

OK, enough venting about that situation...has anyone else ever encountered a situation where someone who claims to be an experienced professional translator will insist upon something that is just so unbelievable as the above? I'd be interested to hear your stories, thanks.

Oh, and btw, if this is in the wrong section then a moderator is of course free to move it...of course I hope I got it right though.:)

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-08-19 22:37 GMT]


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:57
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
The statistical approach to translation Aug 19, 2009

Hi gad,

I too have come across "professional" or "experienced" translators that rely excessively on Google. I call theirs the "statistical approach to translation".

When they are in doubt regarding any particular term they let Google decide. For example, if they have two potential translations for a term -let's call them A and B-, they'll Google both A and B and whichever gets the most hits is the one they'll choose.

I'm not kidding.

The best we can do is laugh

Cheers!
Laureana


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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:57
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
When in doubt, add google Aug 20, 2009

gad wrote:
This person insists that all you have to do when in doubt regarding terminology is to do a Google search.

It depends on when exactly you happen to be in doubt.

Sometimes you've never heard the source term before. You don't know what it looks like, what it smells like, what it can do and how you can stop it

In cases like that, starting with a google search for a definition is a good idea
• Start with a definition: i.e. google for S(ource) T(erm)+glossary
• Next, google for T(arget) T(erm)+glossary.

In other cases, you may already have a vague idea - checking a specialist dictionary and following up with a google search as confirmation is all you need:
• Google ST+your preliminary translation
• Enter ST in linguee and other translation corpora

For technical terms not found in any dictionary, a google image search can be very effective:
• Enter the source term in google images. Find out what the tool/device/piece looks like.
• Enter the proposed target term in google images. Compare to see if you have a match.

I'm pretty sure we all use google or other search engines, only at different times during the translation process. Launching a google search is surely not all you have to do, but it can be very helpful at certain stages and using specific parameters. And of course, googling nicely complements all the other professional tools available to a translator.

Has anyone else ever encountered a situation where someone who claims to be an experienced professional translator will insist upon something that is just so unbelievable as the above?

Not really. But here’s what I would do: I would ask for specific examples and for a detailed process explanation. I would insist on particulars, I would nail her down and not let her get away with generalizations.

by attacking me in an extremely nasty tone

I assume you had a conversation over the phone. Obviously, it's all done now, but here are some hints on how to deal with such a situation:
• If you feel attacked, don’t get defensive – just listen and then paraphrase what she is saying. An old trick, but it usually helps to diffuse a tense moment.
• Don’t take it personally, take it professionally. Try to understand that she is upset about the result/the translation, not angry with you as a person (again, this may sound like a cliché, but will help you maintain your cool)
• Find something that the two of you can agree on!
• If you believe your professionalism is doubted or if you feel patronized, point out that translators apply different methods, that you consider this to be highly interesting, and that you always wanted to write a scholarly article on this topic. Then just leave it at that.

Cheer up!

johanna


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nasty Aug 20, 2009

It looks like you have had a nasty experience with a nasty person. But yes, Google can be a tremendous help, it is the largest dictionary in the world and it does not just reflect the opinion of one author.

Used correctly, it can solve just about any problem you can name. it can also steer you in the wrong direction, so you must know what you are doing and where you are going.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 00:57
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Knowing and understanding the tool Aug 20, 2009

I'd like to add that you can only use Google as a tool once you've fully understood it.

I use a system similar to Johanna's all the time, and as a result I've learned which sites to consider generally helpful, and which are dubious. Some websites are translations, don't forget, and as such will mislead you into a rabbit warren of faux amis. I've learned which websites are trustworthy and which ones use translations, but this knowledge was acquired over time. I agree with everyone here - google is not the be-all and end-all of research; it's an aid, nothing more.

Best,

Nancy


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
A misunderstanding? Aug 20, 2009

If I guess right that she outsourced work to you, she may have meant that you worried too much, striving for a quality which was far above her level, thus spending too much time and money for a sound business. In short: the best possible quality is not always the optimal and adequate quality. Such a misunderstanding could explain why she got angry at your objection.

With such an (admittedly optimistic) interpretation, you could have simply answered:
"Thanks, I will keep it in mind."


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:57
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Dictionaries can be outdated Aug 20, 2009

Very often when stumbling on an unknown term I look it up in a technical dictionary and find all kind of translations. Then I use google to test if these translations are still 'active' and in use in the specific field.
Very often Google finds nothing for these dictionary entries, and then I take this as a warning that terminology has changed and the dictionary is not trustworthy in this respect.

This is then the moment when I might use Kudoz.

In any case before you can use a search engine you must have some idea what the translation could be.

Regards
Heinrich

[Bearbeitet am 2009-08-20 06:25 GMT]


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 11:27
English to Hindi
+ ...
Google is not an answer; it is a nice option! Aug 20, 2009

Below is a list of some sites I use in my wok (for my pairs). This not all that I use.

Reference Source

HWNBrowser Hindi Wordnet 1.1
http://www.cfilt.iitb.ac.in/~hdict/webinterface_user/dict_search_user.php
http://www.shabdkosh.com/
http://www.proz.com/search/
http://translate.google.com/translate_t?hl=en#
http://www.microsoft.com/language/en/us/search.mspx
http://www.translate.google.com/translate_t?hl=en#
http://hi.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=विशेष:Search&redirs=0&search=Sun%20stroke&fulltext=Search&ns0=1
http://dictionary.reference.com/translate
http://www.aksharamala.com/hindi/e2h/search.php
http://www.athaia.org/india-dictionary.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_UK_railway_terminology#T
http://tdil.mit.gov.in/terminology.htm#term
http://cstt.nic.in/
http://hi.w3dictionary.org/index.php?q=Inflammation
http://hi.wiktionary.org/wiki/Cooking_Glossary#.E0.A4.B8.E0.A4.BE.E0.A4.AE.E0.A4.BE.E0.A4.A8.E0.A5.8D.E0.A4.AF_.E0.A4.B6.E0.A4.AC.E0.A5.8D.E0.A4.A6-.E0.A4.B8.E0.A5.82.E0.A4.9A.E0.A5.80.09.28General_Terms.29
http://www.nriol.com/resources/grocery/marathi.asp
http://www.indiacurry.com/Miscel/glossary.htm

Everyone has own list of sites. You also need to search as per your needs. Remember like every body else I also use Google to check terms.

It is very correct that there is a lot of garbage on web, but still most of time you get something, you were looking for! (Here, obviously it is expected that, you are enough experienced and knowledgeable to choose the correct one).


[Edited at 2009-08-20 09:33 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:57
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, people like that exist Aug 20, 2009

While I make extensive use of online searches, I still find that our large collection of dictionaries is an indispensable resource. I even collect 19th century dictionaries, because it is occasionally necessary to translate texts from that time for legal purposes. Try finding *that* information online.

I once tried to give a close acquaintance of mine and her husband (both translators for the same language pair and others, rather good ones on the whole) a tip on where to get good deals on dictionaries. I was deeply shocked to be informed by this person that dictionaries were no longer necessary and were too old-fashioned, because "everything" is now online. A bit of personal abuse followed for good measure if I recall, though perhaps not in this case - it has happened so often with that unhappy individual that I don't keep score. It really is a shame to see the professional standards of a competent colleague go down the toilet like that.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:57
English to Croatian
+ ...
Newest generation of google-human translators Aug 20, 2009

Hi "gad",

The woman you are talking about has probably experienced her first steps in "pro" translation online. That's why she is saying that.

Although Google may be a wonderful friend, it is not absolutely reliable. Generally speaking, I rely much more on my large collection of dictionaries, glossaries, lexicons, etc., just as Kevin has said, than on Google resources.

When in doubt about a specific term, what I usually do is contact the PM about it, and they usually clarify it for me. This way I get firsthand information and keep their information confidential, that is exclusively between me and them.

As for people being nasty and aggressive.. : I've seen it numerous times where a person not in any way related to translation judges or evaluates translator's or interpreter's skills. That's even much worse. Have you ever had that?

Example: A person is in the audience listening to a speech that's being interpreted finding many mistakes in interpretation saying everything is wrong. Bear in mind this person can hardly speak the source language, let alone being qualified for translation or even better translation evaluation. I've seen this too many times, and it's unbelievable. I have even seen such people reporting the interpreter about bad interpretation.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Aug 20, 2009

gad wrote:
I just had the strangest situation with another translator. This person insists that all you have to do when in doubt regarding terminology is to do a Google search.


Well, it usually begins with a Google search, but sometimes what I search for is a person and eventually a phone number (eg a professor at some university who might be kind enough to tell me in more detail what a term means). There are also ways of cross-checking term guesses or reducing the number of false positives.

First of all, the way she stated this was kind of insulting - as if I don't already do Google searches as part of my research. She actually thought she was giving me a "tip".


Emotion in e-mail communication is easily misinterpreted. Always assume the other person is acting in good faith (unless you have ample evidence that it is not so). You should not have taken offense at their advice.

So I nicely replied and explained...


In other words, you retorted. Right? If you're so sensitive to a bit of advice, why do you think the other person won't react in a similar way when you do the same (or more, since your answer was clearly more verbose than hers). Just a thought...

This translator ... replied by attacking me in an extremely nasty tone.


Try to imagine the two of you having a nice cup of tea and chatting about this and that, and now imagine her saying the things that she wrote. Are you really, really sure that she "attacked" you? E-mails are written in haste and people often do not realise how abrupt or rude they sound when in fact they are merely making conversation (even if it is argumentative).

OK, enough venting about that situation...has anyone else ever encountered a situation where someone who claims to be an experienced professional translator will insist upon something that is just so unbelievable as the above?


No, but I do know that there are different schools of thought about the usefulness of dictionaries. When I was at college we had two lecturers (my two main subjects) who had opposing views about this. The one guy wanted us to "get used to working without dictionaries" and the other guy wanted us to "get used to absolutely relying on dictionaries". It might just be that your colleague mistakenly thought that you belonged to the second school (and after all, neither extreme is correct).


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Carla Selyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Google but always check that the source is reliable Aug 20, 2009

gad wrote:

I just had the strangest situation with another translator. This person insists that all you have to do when in doubt regarding terminology is to do a Google search.

First of all, the way she stated this was kind of insulting - as if I don't already do Google searches as part of my research. She actually thought she was giving me a "tip".

So I nicely replied and explained that the Internet is full of poor and literal translations, and that many times researching terminology - particularly specialized terminology - is really not as simple as just a Google search. I stated that it's necessary to research terminology using specialized bilingual dictionaries as well (of course, among other resources which I didn't even get into mentioning).

This translator, who supposedly has years of experience and I guess considers herself to be a good, quality translator, replied by attacking me in an extremely nasty tone. Among other things that I won't reprint here, she said that once I have her level of experience then perhaps I will humble myself to open my mind instead of being so touchy. (Don't ask me how I was "touchy" when all I did was state facts in a neutral tone and nothing about feelings or anything else.)

I am just so stunned. Where do I start? I mean, it's bad enough that there is a translator who actually believes that all you do is a Google search and there you go, the answer is there. But the fact that this is someone who considers herself to be an experienced translator...I find that unreal. (Then not to mention the unprofessionalism in replying with a personal attack to something that wasn't the least bit person.) This woman actually thinks I'm supposed to be grateful for the "advice" she gave me. Seriously?

OK, enough venting about that situation...has anyone else ever encountered a situation where someone who claims to be an experienced professional translator will insist upon something that is just so unbelievable as the above? I'd be interested to hear your stories, thanks.

Oh, and btw, if this is in the wrong section then a moderator is of course free to move it...of course I hope I got it right though.:)

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-08-19 22:37 GMT]


Google is a great tool; however there is need for discernment when using it to check on terms. It is best to check that the site using that term is a reliable reference source such as a professional organisation dealing with that issue. I would not use the term if it is quoted on a blog or an informal site. It is definitely always best to double-check expressions found on google with reliable dictionary sources or professional organisations. Same as the rules for building a good glossary - references have to always be checked.

Regards

Carla


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 06:57
English to Croatian
+ ...
The Use of Dictionaries Aug 20, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
No, but I do know that there are different schools of thought about the usefulness of dictionaries. When I was at college we had two lecturers (my two main subjects) who had opposing views about this. The one guy wanted us to "get used to working without dictionaries" and the other guy wanted us to "get used to absolutely relying on dictionaries". It might just be that your colleague mistakenly thought that you belonged to the second school (and after all, neither extreme is correct).


Yes, one must know how to use the dictionaries and make the best of them. making the comparison between the two, bear in mind that the best dictionaries are legally verified, undergone an extensive quality control, etc, signed by highest authorities and teams of experts. Can you tell the same for Google/online resources..? For starters, I don't see a signature on any of them.



[Edited at 2009-08-20 15:38 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:57
French to English
Exactly Aug 20, 2009

Johanna Timm, PhD wrote:
Not really. But here’s what I would do: I would ask for specific examples and for a detailed process explanation. I would insist on particulars, I would nail her down and not let her get away with generalizations.


Exactly. Ask her what sort of search she had in mind. Different people have very different levels of both knowledge and imagination when it comes to searches.

Not so long ago, I saw a claim in kudoz that the suggested answer of word1 word2 word3 must be right because it had 50 bazillion hits on google. Sadly, however "word1 word2 word3" within quotes, i.e. that precise phrase, had about 4 hits, none of them relevant.

I have also come across people who had never thought of entering the term they were looking for in the source language plus the source language word for the target language, just to bring up webpages with both languages. There are many ways to skin a cat, and we don't all know all of them... (not even me!!).


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Search outcomes depend on many factors Aug 20, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Ask her what sort of search she had in mind. Different people have very different levels of both knowledge and imagination when it comes to searches.



Yes, and another factor that affects how useful Google is is the field you're translating in. Certain fields are well supplied (e.g. medicine in English), others not so well supplied. And that goes for languages too, lots more kinds of information is available in English, say, than Spanish.

I don't use medical dictionaries at all and I don't think I need to. I search abstracts and full text articles, using the web as a kind of corpus. In fact, most of my med article translations are guided by a corpus created from abstracts and some full text articles. Where there are doubts I consult colleagues and, as a last resort, clients.


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