Spanish preterite
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 6, 2011

Hi all,

I am doing pharmaceutical back translation and am unsure whether the Spanish preterite is a valid translation of the English present perfect. I've been looking at various uses of the preterite but none seems to compare with the "started in the past and may continue into the future" of the present perfect.

Take for example "No se evaluó la seguridad y eficacia de *** en pacientes pediátricos". This is not in reference to a specific trial but a general statement. To me, it would make more sense to say "No se ha evaluado...". Or is it okay to use the preterite in this way? Would I be doing an injustice to the original translator by back-translating using the simple past, which I feel would give it a different meaning altogether?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks.


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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 19:27
English to French
+ ...
Act Spanish-language natives Apr 6, 2011

Here is an interesting article in Spanish, although there might be many more:
http://culturitalia.uibk.ac.at/hispanoteca/Lexikon%20der%20Linguistik/po/PRETÉRITO%20PERFECTO%20SIMPLE%20y%20PRETÉRITO%20PERFECTO%20COMPUESTO.htm

However I suggest you ask the same question in the Spanish-language forum, where more people might be able to give you an precise answer.


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Raúl Casanova  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 21:27
English to Spanish
No se ha evaluado/no ha sido evaluado Apr 6, 2011

I think that the Spanish past perfect tense would convey the meaning more faithfully. It gets the same nuance as you have stated as "started in the past and may continue into the future" or "has not been done, yet, but can be made in the future"

[Edited at 2011-04-06 18:47 GMT]


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Lords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dear Paty, it will be better to keep the present perfect... Apr 6, 2011

Dear Paty

Yes, if you use the preterite it would be just in simple past and it does have a different meaning than the present perfect. The simple past is something already done and finished.
It will be better to keep the present perfect, if the action began in the past and have not finished yet (still in progress).

Preterite (preterito): I lived in that house (viví en sea casa). Action finished in the past

Past Perfect (pluscuamperfecto) : I had lived in that house (Había vivido en esa casa). Action that began for a laps of time in the past and finished in the past.

Present Perfect (pretérito perfecto compuesto): I have lived in that house (he vivido en esa casa). Action that began sometime in the past, but it is still in progress.

So it is up to you. You know more the original and you may know what is the original meaning.

My best wishes. I hope that this can help you.


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just to make it clearer... Apr 6, 2011

I should have made clear that the original is in English. This was translated to Spanish and I am doing a back-translation of this Spanish version. So the original English present perfect has been translated to Spanish preterite.

It is obvious from the text that the English should be in present perfect, however, my back-translation should reflect the choices the Spanish translator made i.e. simple past. However, I don't want to do a disservice to the translator if the preterite works just as well in Spanish in this context.

Thanks for your help, everyone.


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:27
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Verb tenses in different regions of the Spanish speaking world Apr 6, 2011

Hi Patyjs,

You have touched a point that clearly indicates that often an attempt to write in “global” Spanish fails. As you suspected, using the simple past tense as a translation for the English present perfect would be typical in certain regions of the Spanish-speaking world.

There is an article in ProZ database on the subject. I copied below the link and two excerpts (I am sorry, but the article is in Spanish, and so are the excerpts).

I agree with the colleague who suggested to post it again in the Spanish forum, to get a more complete coverage.

El Pretérito Perfecto ¿se cayó de las Carabelas de Colón?
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/460/

Y así llego al tema que me interesa: los argentinos estudiamos los dos tiempos de verbo pero usamos sólo uno. Nosotros decimos: “yo fui”, “ella rompió”, “ustedes sacaron” y no decimos: “yo he ido”, “ella ha roto”, “ustedes han sacado”... . Siempre me intrigaba para qué se usa el Pretérito Perfecto, se aprendía pero ¿para qué servía? A repetir como loritos sin entender el por qué.

Investigué en varios libros y me llevé una sorpresa: el pretérito perfecto se usa en España y EN GENERAL NO SE USA en casi ningún país latinoamericano. Sí lo usan los uruguayos convirtiéndose en una de las pocas pautas que se pueden usar para diferenciar el habla de un argentino del habla de un uruguayo, ya que, por lo demás (y por algún detallecito de entonación que detectan sólo los muy curiosos en estos temas) argentinos y uruguayos, hablamos exactamente igual.


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Lords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Notice: What you have to avoid is over using passive voice. Apr 6, 2011

Ezrrom Lores wrote:

Notice: what you have to avoid is over using passive voice while translating from English into Spanish.

Pasive voice: El carro fue fabricado en México

Active voice: EL carro se fabricó en México (this sounds more natural in Spanish)



Dear Paty

Yes, if you use the preterite it would be just in simple past and it does have a different meaning than the present perfect. The simple past is something already done and finished.
It will be better to keep the present perfect, if the action began in the past and have not finished yet (still in progress).

Preterite (preterito): I lived in that house (viví en sea casa). Action finished in the past

Past Perfect (pluscuamperfecto) : I had lived in that house (Había vivido en esa casa). Action that began for a laps of time in the past and finished in the past.

Present Perfect (pretérito perfecto compuesto): I have lived in that house (he vivido en esa casa). Action that began sometime in the past, but it is still in progress.

So it is up to you. You know more the original and you may know what is the original meaning.

My best wishes. I hope that this can help you.





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Spanish preterite

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