Do you translate "into" or "out of"?
Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:43
Member (2007)
German to English
Sep 21, 2009

In other words, is the document's source language the same as your customer's or is the target language? Why do I want to know this?

I have been following economic trends in the US, as they affect my business, with some interest. For a long time now, America has been good at importing products, but not so good at exporting them. This means that non-English speakers have been selling more products to US English-speakers than visa versa. Consequently, I translate users' manuals, sales broshures, and the like into English for my non-English speaking customers to send to their customers.

But if and when America starts to export more, I'm wondering whether that means I will be translating more functional specifications, requests for quotation, and the like out of German for (my) English speaking customers so that they can manufacture the products that their German customers are ordering.

I'm assuming that the buyer's language will be the business transaction language. Is this true? If so, would the "translating into" volume be comparable to "translating out of" volume?


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 08:43
Turkish to English
+ ...
Into client's native language Sep 22, 2009

I mainly translate from a language that is unknown to the end client and into the end client's language. In my case the end client is usually a law firm handling an international case so this may not be relevant to the scenario you have outlined.

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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:43
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
to quote Willy Brandt Sep 22, 2009

"If I am selling to you I will speak English, but if you are selling to me, dan mussen sie Deutsch sprechen." Willy Brandt, Former Chancellor of West Germany.

Then again you would "normally" only translate into you mother tongue...

AND in any field the trade between two countries usually goes one way, the US might be exporting medical equipment to Germany, requiring German manuals, while Germany might export Cars to the US. And I'm pretty sure somethings might need translation there too.
In "general" the automotive translations might be up on the German-> English side, while the medical is increasing in English->German. But what about Finance, Legal, ...etc etc..

I don't know what you specialize in but if you see a field dropping off you might need to find new fields, markets and clients, but I would not change the language I translate "into"... Perhaps I might expand the languages I translate "out of" if I had the right qualifications. Like adding Danish or Swedish if I already handled Norwegian for example...(and I'm not saying they are so similar it would be an easy thing to do!)

====
Ed


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:43
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Into English... Sep 22, 2009

I like the quote from Willy Brandt, but unfortunately lots of buyers would never get away with it!

I do translate from Scandinavian languages, and Ed Vreeburg is right - they are related, but there are pitfalls, and you have to know what you are doing. So I am very cautious about what I take on from Norwegian and Swedish. (And I have not registered them as source languages on this site!)

Danish companies have to have practically everything translated, whether they are exporting or importing, because the rest of the world in general simply does not understand Danish.

I am quite sure the same goes for an enormous number of other languages. Sometimes they get by with English as the common language between the parties, but it is always best if at least one side is working in their native language.

That very often means Danes translating out of Danish too, again because it is not possible to find a native speaker of the target language who can understand Danish well enough.

It is not "fair", because the smaller nations with less widely spoken languages end up doing more translation, and we native speakers of English are enormously privileged. But that is life!

To answer your question, the translations I do are often the Danish seller's marketing and correspondence, and to a lesser extent manuals etc. so that the buyer can understand them. (I don't do much of the really technical stuff; that is for specialists, and is often done by Danes.)

Danes can often read English, so the material coming the other way may not be translated. I don't do it in any case!

But Danish to other languages may well have to be translated both ways. Here function takes precedence over form, and as long as the parties understand each other, they cannot always be too picky about whether translators work into or out of their native languages. There may even be advantages in having one translator who follows all the transactions of a case in both directions, and this is what in-house translators in major export companies will probably do.

The best of them are extremely good, and I have learnt a lot from proofreading English for some of them.



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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:43
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Who talks more? Sep 22, 2009

Another way to look at it: Who talks more, the buyer or the seller? Do more documents pass from buyer to seller than visa versa?

Up until now, I've been translating exclusively into. I guess I'll know that the worm has turned when untranslated German language documents start plopping down on corporate desks in America and I get requests to "tell us what this stuff means".


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:43
English to German
+ ...
Interesting question. Sep 22, 2009

As a German translator living in the US, I see it this way:

Whatever I do serves a particular segment of the market. Mine, that is. I don't follow any import / export trends.

If I work for US agencies who attend to US clients who serve German speaking markets, what exactly am I doing? Importing or exporting?

If I serve UK companies who send their projects around the world to have them translated by a US translator to serve the German market, am I importing or exporting?

Har! Now for the interesting part: German companies are sending their projects halfway around the world, even if they could find much less expensive ones in their own country, which by nature is crawling with German native speakers. So, what is this? Import or export?




Made a typo.

[Edited at 2009-09-22 12:38 GMT]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Swedish to English
+ ...
The danger of false friends Sep 22, 2009

Christine Andersen wrote:
I do translate from Scandinavian languages, and Ed Vreeburg is right - they are related, but there are pitfalls, and you have to know what you are doing. So I am very cautious about what I take on from Norwegian and Swedish. (And I have not registered them as source languages on this site!)

Recently I read a CV written by a young Swede applying in English for a sales position. The CV was very good and generally well-written, and my company eventually employed him. But I'll never forget how much I laughed when reading that he was "offensive". Not exactly the kind of person we wanted to employ in a selling position. (In Swedish "offensiv" means being proactively on the attack.)

My other favourite false friend instance came when watching the news during the first Gulf war. The Swedish channel TV4 used a female Norwegian reporter in Iraq. I was living in Sweden at the time and one morning this reporter came on screen and reported that it had been a "rolig" night in Baghdad. "Rolig" in Norwegian means quiet, in Swedish it means fun/funny...


Danes can often read English...

Same for Swedes, so you often get a lot of "corrections" made by clients using school book English...


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Swedish to English
+ ...
Removed as double posting Sep 22, 2009



[Edited at 2009-09-22 19:42 GMT]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not applicable to a large volume in my case Sep 22, 2009

Richard Bartholomew wrote:

I'm assuming that the buyer's language will be the business transaction language. Is this true? If so, would the "translating into" volume be comparable to "translating out of" volume?


Many of my clients are Spanish or French speakers "reporting" to international agencies with just that slight hint of paranoia about something they consider important getting lost in translation. So in my case, earning points is a question of beating them to the punch and saying it better than they did whenever possible, in such a way that their audiences or readerships enable them to receive favourable feedback.

It doesn't go unnoticed. Just this morning as I reached the last "Acknowledgments" in a long "white paper", I was practically touched to tears to see myself thanked as the translator.


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:43
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
This just in: import/export situation quantified Sep 23, 2009

Historical Slump in Exports
NRZ 22.09.2009, Peter Hahne
(See http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/nrz/2009/9/22/news-134151020/detail.html)

...
"Russian business showed the largest decrease with almost 40 percent.
Exports in the Euro zone retreated by a handsom 22.7 percent. Exports
to the USA also sank considerably by 26.5 percent relative to last year
due to the crisis.

Trade with China was much less impacted. The middle kingdom ordered
just 3.6 percent fewer goods and services than in the first half of 2008.
Imports also retreated significantly - by 18.2 percent to 333.5 mio. Euros."
...


It looks as though German to Russian translators have even more to fear than I do. On the other hand, German to Chinese seems to be the place to be right now.


It's not all bad news though. The author concludes:

...
"Optimists hope that empty warehouses and the energizing of the
world economy will bring a boom to the German export economy in the
coming months."
...


[Edited at 2009-09-23 09:04 GMT]


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