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Rubbish text to translate (shrug or fret?)
Thread poster: Mark Hamlen

Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:47
French to English
+ ...
Aug 12, 2010

I'm translating a particularly badly written legal argument from French and it raises an issue I've never been able to resolve.

When you're translating rubbish text, do you try to infer how it should have been written and what you think the author is trying to say and thus improve it or do you shrug and turn out the same rubbish in the target language?

There are risks with both approaches. First, you are not being "faithful" to the text and if it's truly badly written, your interpretation might not be correct. Second, if you turn out the same rubbish, well, you'll be accused of delivering rubbish.

Here's a sample of what I'm dealing with:

Il n'y a en l'état aucun début de commencement d'un moindre embryon de preuve que la rupture serait due à une faiblesse subite du métal et donc une rupture des poutres, étant rappelé qu'il ressort des témoignages qu'au moment du sinistre il n'a pas été constaté de rupture subite -qui est toujours la conséquence d'une rupture brutale de poutre -mais à l'inverse une rupture progressive

(You can't have a "sudden weakness in the metal" but that's what the French says. And then there's the wonderful: "sudden rupture - which is always the result of a brutal rupture").

This text is making me ill.


 

mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 06:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
I find the text is rather well-written! Aug 12, 2010

It's expressive, meaningful and understandable.

Without more context it would be unwise to claim

Mark Hamlen wrote:
You can't have a "sudden weakness in the metal" ...


That is exactly the sort of thing that was written - justifiably and accurately - in reports about the 9/11 incident.

I believe the text should be translated faithfully, in particular to get across the mood and purpose of the author when (s)he wrote (or said), for example: "Il n'y a en l'état aucun début de commencement d'un moindre embryon de preuve que ..."

MediaMatrix


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Give 'em Rubbish Aug 12, 2010

They gave you rubbish, you give them the same. But be sure you include a note in your translation clearly pointing out it was rubbish in the first place, plus [sic] wherever needed in the text.

It is a legal document, so faithfulness is a must.


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's really quite simple Aug 12, 2010

The complexity of the specific issue entails the comprehension of the fundamental basis of the textual issue in question that would further the translatability of the contextual document. This is to say that, specifically, you must first identify the sense of the particulars of the connotation, which means that, the implication of the bfft grrt dnk in reference to annex one of the deeble document. Once the implications therein, thereof and thereby are understood, you may then proceed to refer to what is denoted in paragraph a, particularly in the passage thirty seven (37) of the grinple annex. Said reference largely simplifies the process.

 

Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:47
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Edward you are brilliant Aug 12, 2010

Thank you, now I understand everything.

 

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:47
Swedish to English
+ ...
:) Aug 12, 2010

Edward Potter wrote:

The complexity of the specific issue entails the comprehension of the fundamental basis of the textual issue in question that would further the translatability of the contextual document. This is to say that, specifically, you must first identify the sense of the particulars of the connotation, which means that, the implication of the bfft grrt dnk in reference to annex one of the deeble document. Once the implications therein, thereof and thereby are understood, you may then proceed to refer to what is denoted in paragraph a, particularly in the passage thirty seven (37) of the grinple annex. Said reference largely simplifies the process.


Summed it up in (more than) a word.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 11:47
German to Serbian
+ ...
:D Aug 12, 2010

Edward, that is what I call the art of simplification.icon_lol.gif

Mark: if the text reads really bad, you should report it to your client. Ask them who the text author is.

[Edited at 2010-08-12 20:21 GMT]


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Now something in plain English Aug 12, 2010

Written between the lines in my above reply is that there is no right way.

Don't lose any sleep worrying about it. You might try some combination of your two ideas: try making it look good in English through guesswork, thus sparing yourself an undeserved bad image, while somehow loosely reflecting the source text.

A customer who would criticize your work in this situation is probably is not worth keeping.


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:47
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
You can't translate unFrench Aug 12, 2010

It looks like text that came from a not very good machine translation (from another language) or was written by somebody with a not-French native language, working with a dictionary and thinking they could write French that way.
You could consider informing your client that you can't translate it from French because, although it consists of French words, it is not actually French text.

Oliver


 

Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:47
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's written by a French lawyer Aug 12, 2010

Yes, it's nasty French, but it's written by a monolingual French lawyer. It's the adverse party in my client's case, so I can't really ask the author what he really means. The client won't give me grief, though, since she knows the other lawyer's a git.

 

mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 06:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rubbish! Aug 12, 2010

Mark Hamlen wrote:
Yes, it's nasty French,


That, frankly, is rubbish - far worse than anything in the extract from the ST which Mark is ranting on about in the OP.

Mark Hamlen wrote:
... but it's written by a monolingual French lawyer.


That's no surprise! And, if I may be so bold, a French lawyer with a delightful turn of phrase when it comes to expressing his sarcastic wit...

Mark Hamlen wrote:
It's the adverse party in my client's case, so I can't really ask the author what he really means. The client won't give me grief, though, since she knows the other lawyer's a git.


Does the aforesaid lawyer have leave to quote you on that libelous comment?

MediaMatrix


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 16:47
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Garbage in garbage out? Aug 13, 2010

Henry Hinds wrote:
They gave you rubbish, you give them the same. But be sure you include a note in your translation clearly pointing out it was rubbish in the first place, plus [sic] wherever needed in the text.
It is a legal document, so faithfulness is a must.


I agree with this approach. On TH>EN pair, I met with rubbish source texts since Thai language styles are badly affected by foreign languages. Guessing Thai or foreign grammars in sentences is not easy. I needed to add notes to the clients.

Best regards,
Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 11:47
German to English
+ ...
I find the text Aug 13, 2010

OK. The French is clear, the writer has a somewhat colourful way of expressing his views about the other party's arguments, but it's logical and I can certainly see what he is getting at.

As to the GIGO principle - I don't think we have much choice - translate what is there and warn teh client.

[Edited at 2010-08-13 07:06 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:47
Member (2008)
Italian to English
ha ha Aug 13, 2010

Edward Potter wrote:

The complexity of the specific issue entails the comprehension of the fundamental basis of the textual issue in question that would further the translatability of the contextual document. This is to say that, specifically, you must first identify the sense of the particulars of the connotation, which means that, the implication of the bfft grrt dnk in reference to annex one of the deeble document. Once the implications therein, thereof and thereby are understood, you may then proceed to refer to what is denoted in paragraph a, particularly in the passage thirty seven (37) of the grinple annex. Said reference largely simplifies the process.


Absolutely. Especially the part about grinple.

icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2010-08-13 10:20 GMT]


 

Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:47
English to German
+ ...
Agree with David and mediamatrix Aug 13, 2010

David Wright wrote:
I find the text OK. The French is clear, the writer has a somewhat colourful way of expressing his views about the other party's arguments, but it's logical and I can certainly see what he is getting at.


Obviously (to me, at least), "rupture subite" and "rupture brutale de poutre" refer to two different processes, so it makes perfect sense.


 
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