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Acronyms the anathema of the translator and how to keep your head above water
Thread poster: David Hollywood

David Hollywood  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 20, 2010

as we all know, acronyms are a challenge in translation (some might say a plague) so I would like to hear people's ideas on how to deal with them

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 06:09
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Cultural heritage Dec 20, 2010

I met with military acronyms of certain languages. I find that I should have been an army major to master, and to be familiar with, all words. Acronyms are special types of languages: a newly invented language that can die out quickly as well. In addition, acronyms + computerized translation = a perplexing domain of speed and jargons.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
When in doubt, ask the client. Dec 20, 2010

After a reasonable amount of research, asking the client is the most effective way to get results and maintain one's sanity, especially in cases of ambiguity.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:09
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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Depends on language Dec 20, 2010

Especially Americans (and the Sovietunion) love(d) acronyms. Other languages (e.g. German and Finnish) are not so well suited.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:09
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Make your own glossary Dec 20, 2010

I agree that acronyms are a modern plague - and the armed forces are particularly enamoured of them, not only in documents but in conversation too.
Over my years as a translator, I have compiled my own glossary of acronyms to which I add as new darlings appear in the texts I translate. I find it amazingly useful.
And yes, it's a good idea to ask the client to elucidate - sometimes they even do!
If anyone would like to share my personal glossary of acronyms, I'd be happy to send it - French and Spanish to English, mainly but not entirely related to my specialist fields of finance and law.
NMTTW *,
Jenny

My own family's acronym for ending letters = no more time to waste


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:09
English to Dutch
+ ...
You can always join the AAAAAA Dec 20, 2010

American Association Against Acronym Abuse and Ambiguity

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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 00:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
International English exams Dec 20, 2010

Cambridge ESOL exams are awash with acronyms: I had to beg my TL (I'm an OE) for an explanation recently because I didn't understand his message about PSN and CPE. I'm an OE for all UMS exams so I have to do PSNs for FCE and CAE as well as CPE....

Get my drift (and I still can't remember what PSN means!)? I'll put you out of your misery shortly.

TTFN

Noni


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:09
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Talk to your client Dec 20, 2010

Two issues:

a. To what extent do you expand the acronyms? Once? Every time? That's a matter of style to be discussed with your client (although it would be covered in a general inquiry about "any matters of style about which I should be concerned?"). If the acronym is frequently used, it will make a difference in the size of your target text.

b. Figuring out what the acronym is: If a reasonable amount of research doesn't clarify it, you probably should ask your client.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:09
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
To Aceavila - Noni Dec 20, 2010

I thought it was only people of my generation who remembered the acronyms from the British Second World War comedy radio programme ITMA (an acronym for It's That Man Again, the man being Tommy Handley), such as TTFN (Tata for now) and YTYTK (pronounced Whitey Whitey Kay = You're too young to know). I would have thought YTYTK TTFN!

[Edited at 2010-12-20 19:27 GMT]


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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:09
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Assume you are inlcuding TLAs in this Dec 20, 2010

as these cause as many problems as acronyms .

As an ex military man we could have whole conversations in tlas but bring a soldier and a sailor and an airman together and they all use different tlas.

TLA stands for three letter abbreviation (initialisms) - it doesn't matter how many letters it has in the abbreviation it is always a TLA. So for example SHQ (Station Headquarters) is a TLA so is FIBUA (fighting in a built up area), the latter is also an acronym as it is pronouncable.

As for methods of dealing with them the only way is to build a glossary. Acronyms and TLAs are relatively straightforward to translate once you know what they mean.

Now Mnemonics that's a whole new ball game they just don't work.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Google, AF, ATC Dec 20, 2010

Google the acronym.

Either I score fairly fast, or else I have not wasted many minutes.
I am lucky with my source language, Danish, as many public bodies and users of acronyms tell you what they stand for, and may even have an official English translation on their website.

Others use the English direct. It's worth a try if there is a C or a W in the acronym, as those letters are rare in Danish.

I go to AF = Acronym Finder
http://www.acronymfinder.com/
-- which is firmly bookmarked as one of my favourites.

I have Jablonski's Medical Acronyms and Abbreviations, which is sometimes good.
There are others on line.

If none of those are conclusive, then I Ask The Client.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 00:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Put you out of your misery Dec 20, 2010

(Glad to have struck a chord with Jack btw)

OE= Oral Examiner
TL = Team leader
(STL = Senior Team Leader)
PSN = sth to do with exmainer standarization
FCE = First Certificate in English
CAE = Cambridge Advanced English
CPE = Certificate of Proficiency in English
UMS = Upper Main Suite

Might be useful for someone's "Education Glossary"?

Like Jenny, we have home grown ones too: NNTR (no need to reply - saves on SMSs!)


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
How about this? Dec 21, 2010

Just received an email via Proz:


"LSGY is looking for ESOL Tutors throughout East Anglia"

I have NO IDEA what on earth this might mean !


TTFN

Oh, and MCHNY

(Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)

[Edited at 2010-12-21 10:13 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:09
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
LSGY and ESOL Dec 21, 2010

For LSGY, see this:
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/languagesolutionsgy

ESOL is English for Speakers of Other Languages.

English as a foreign or second language - Wikipedia, the free ...
ESL (English as a second language), ESOL (English for speakers of other languages), and EFL (English as a foreign language) all refer to the use or study of English by speakers with a ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESOL


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Halil Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu "Бёcäטsع Լîfe's cômplicåtعd eñøugh"
Turkey
Local time: 02:09
Turkish to English
+ ...
This is the best Dec 28, 2010

source I have ever seen : http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/

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Acronyms the anathema of the translator and how to keep your head above water

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