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I have a new source language: Denglish
Thread poster: Tarja Braun

Tarja Braun  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:38
Member (2008)
German to Finnish
+ ...
Mar 3, 2011

More and more German companies are managing their documentation in English. But what kind of English! I have translated sentences like:
“By train from the rip cord, an emergency stop is initiated.”
“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”
“Advancement of material” (conveyor belt)
Wrong choice of words. You can understand the sentences if you speak German, and translate them as intended. Zug means train and pulling in German, but train is not pulling in English. Investment is Anlage in German having the meaning assets/investment and machine/facility. Advancement is Förderung in German with the double meaning transport and aid/promotion.
And I don’t want to mention the syntax.

Are you facing this situation as well? I can refuse these kinds of jobs, and I am not responsible for the reputation of a company, only for the quality of my job. But those pidgin documents go out with the product as well, not the translation alone. Do you report the bad source text quality to your customers? How do you do it – in a diplomatic way?


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to German
+ ...
The difference between lousy English and Denglish Mar 3, 2011

I am sorry, but I have to disappoint you.

Denglish refers to all those anglicisms that Germans are so crazy about.

What you are talking about is nothing but lousy English, written by a non-native speaker.

If you are mixing up the meaning of the word Denglish, you may just stand in the same line with the people that you are criticizing.



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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 07:38
English to French
+ ...
Translation tools used backward? Mar 3, 2011

This looks very much like something that has been transplanted from German into English by an automatic translation tool. (German syntax would have been kept, with some verbs being pushed to the end of the sentence, not to mention the numerous terminological errors you mentioned).

However it would seem very strange if a German company translated German into English (even by use of a translation tool), and then asked you to translate back into German. Or could this have been translated automatically from another Germanic language such as Dutch?

Anyway you should absolutely talk to your client about the quality of their English texts, and they will know what to think about the fluency of their own people, or about the usefulness of automatic translation tools.

[Edited at 2011-03-03 22:08 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to German
+ ...
Same thought as mine, Jean-Pierre Mar 3, 2011

Jean-Pierre Artigau wrote:

This looks very much like something that has been transplanted from German into English by an automatic translation tool.



We Germans are kind of addicted to the grammar and the syntax that we grew up with but this gem:

“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”

does not even remotely resemble German grammar.


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christeld  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:38
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Translation tools used backward? Mar 3, 2011

I made the assumption that a text I was translating (from English to Norwegian, for a Swedish company) had been either written by a non-native speaker of English or that the copy I was working from was a machine translation.

As such I explained to the client (middleman, agency) that I found the text difficult to work with and would they ask their client whether it was possible for me to work from the Swedish source or use a Swedish copy for reference ...

Cue one very offended client. The original was written by a native (American) English speaker!


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Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:38
Chinese to English
+ ...
non-German grammar Mar 3, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

We Germans are kind of addicted to the grammar and the syntax that we grew up with but this gem:

“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”

does not even remotely resemble German grammar.


Hmm, right. It looks more like… Japanese?

But personally I think an automatic translation tool need not be involved. I’ve seen English that can’t be understood until you realize it’s actually French in disguise.


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
German to Spanish
+ ...
" topic in the "Translation Theory and Practice" forum. If you wanted Mar 3, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Jean-Pierre Artigau wrote:

This looks very much like something that has been transplanted from German into English by an automatic translation tool.



We Germans are kind of addicted to the grammar and the syntax that we grew up with but this gem:

“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”

does not even remotely resemble German grammar.




Hi Nicole: Pleased to meet you here again. By the way, I would like to ask you what kind of German is this one:

http://www.beco-vianen.nl/du/dopfel_schnellwechsel.html

It is not German nor Kölsch neither Jenisch, and of course not Denglish...









[Edited at 2011-03-03 23:54 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:38
English to German
+ ...
That's Machinish from Dutch Mar 4, 2011

Pablo Bouvier wrote:

Hi Nicole: Pleased to meet you here again. By the way, I would like to ask you what kind of German is this one:

http://www.beco-vianen.nl/du/dopfel_schnellwechsel.html

It is not German nor Kölsch neither Jenisch, and of course not Denglish...


It's a Dutch company. I just hope for the well-being and the sanity of all their non-native employees and the rest of the world that they didn't use the same machine to translate their safety instructions.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:38
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not machinish, just Dutch Mar 4, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Pablo Bouvier wrote:

By the way, I would like to ask you what kind of German is this one:

http://www.beco-vianen.nl/du/dopfel_schnellwechsel.html

It is not German nor Kölsch neither Jenisch, and of course not Denglish...


It's a Dutch company. I just hope for the well-being and the sanity of all their non-native employees and the rest of the world that they didn't use the same machine to translate their safety instructions.


This is obviously written by a Dutch person with a technical dictionary. The word order, syntax, all is just plain Dutch. MT would have mangled the sentences, not just kept them Dutch.
A plain case of "Es ist kaus baussen".


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:38
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not just German... Mar 4, 2011

Tarja Braun wrote:

More and more German companies are managing their documentation in English. But what kind of English! I have translated sentences like:
“By train from the rip cord, an emergency stop is initiated.”
“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”
“Advancement of material” (conveyor belt)

Are you facing this situation as well? I can refuse these kinds of jobs, and I am not responsible for the reputation of a company, only for the quality of my job. But those pidgin documents go out with the product as well, not the translation alone. Do you report the bad source text quality to your customers? How do you do it – in a diplomatic way?


Not to mention the East-Asian companies that have their documentation first translated into English, and use that to create translations into other (European) languages. That works if the English translation is OK, but I find that often, this is done by a good willing employee internally who has overestimated his/her knowledge of English...

The only thing you CAN do is report it to the client. If only to cover your backside in case you have misunderstood the source, or even translated the source correctly, but the source was wrong.
In my experience, the agency usually answers with a sigh, yes we know, we told them too, but they won't listen, so we'll just have to make do...


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
Jedish? Mar 4, 2011

Ambrose Li wrote:
Hmm, right. It looks more like… Japanese?


Sounds like Yoda to me


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:38
English to Japanese
+ ...
Check out the English page Mar 4, 2011

[quote]Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

Tarja Braun wrote:

More and more German companies are managing their documentation in English. But what kind of English! I have translated sentences like:
“By train from the rip cord, an emergency stop is initiated.”
“In the investment field horns and flashing lights are.”
“Advancement of material” (conveyor belt)

Are you facing this situation as well? I can refuse these kinds of jobs, and I am not responsible for the reputation of a company, only for the quality of my job. But those pidgin documents go out with the product as well, not the translation alone. Do you report the bad source text quality to your customers? How do you do it – in a diplomatic way?


Just happened to check out their English page, and found one grammatical error and one spelling mistake browsing only halfway through.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 13:38
English to Croatian
+ ...
Nonnative enthusiast.. Mar 4, 2011

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

The only thing you CAN do is report it to the client. If only to cover your backside in case you have misunderstood the source, or even translated the source correctly, but the source was wrong.
In my experience, the agency usually answers with a sigh, yes we know, we told them too, but they won't listen, so we'll just have to make do...


Yes, what usually happens is that the nonnative "author" gets offended if someone challenges his or her English. So you will soon find out there's no point in reporting it to anybody.

I recently translated an English document that was clearly written by a native German; nothing in that text was idiomatic English. Starting from structure and organization to writing style, phraseology and grammar. Did I report it? Not really, because I'd be doing nothing but reporting source text authors, as I get this kind of texts quite often.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:38
English to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on quality Mar 4, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

The only thing you CAN do is report it to the client. If only to cover your backside in case you have misunderstood the source, or even translated the source correctly, but the source was wrong.
In my experience, the agency usually answers with a sigh, yes we know, we told them too, but they won't listen, so we'll just have to make do...


Yes, what usually happens is that the nonnative "author" gets offended if someone challenges his or her English. So you will soon find out there's no point in reporting it to anybody.


Well, of course, if the text is intelligible and factually correct, there's no point in reporting anything, as there isn't really a problem. I'm not talking about not-so-idiomatic sources, I'm talking about sources that are multi-interpretable, incomprehensible, or outright wrong.


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Dr. Matthias Schauen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:38
Member
English to German
Yes Mar 4, 2011

I have seen and translated English texts that were obviously written by native speakers of German (although they were not nearly as bad as Tarja's examples), and I agree that knowing German helped enormously in figuring out what the authors wanted to say. It's much easier for me to translate English texts written German authors than to translate texts by French, Italian or Spanish authors (I haven't dealt with Asian authors yet), and this is probably due to the fact that I understand the German sentence structure behind the English text.

I always comment on real errors in the source text, but I usually don't mention low quality. Sometimes I have to ask what is meant by certain sentences, and I hope that this also gets across the message that the source text is suboptimal.


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