Indexing - Translating an Index
Thread poster: Craig Meulen

Craig Meulen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
German to English
+ ...
Nov 19, 2011

Hello Colleagues

I've tried to search the forums but using index as a keyword I end up with all sorts of hits that refer to desktop search software and other things, but no answers to my question.

I am involved in the translation of a fairly large non-fiction book with 3 indexes (general index, index of person, index of locations).

I've not been involved in something like this before so I'll just ask a few dumb questions and hope you forgive my naivity and bless me with intelligent answers!

1) When a book is translated, is the index generally translated (and page numbers adapted) or does a professional indexer create a new index?

2) If an index is created anew, how long does an indexer need to create an index for a 500-page book once it has been translated and typeset?

3) If the index is created during the translation process, can InDesign really import "embedded indexes" created in Microsoft Word without too much hassle?

4) If the index is not translated but a new one created, isn't this a sign of disrespect to the indexer of the original book?


Thanks for any other tips

Craig



[Bearbeitet am 2011-11-19 08:18 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:42
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It's the editor's job Nov 19, 2011

I've translated some books which had indexes. I seem to remember that I was asked simply to translate the index in the order in which it appeared in the source language. It was then the editor's job to rearrange it in alphabetical order in English and make any alterations regarding page numbering and so on. It would have been impossible for me to know what page which reference appeared on in the finally printed version of the book.
I'd advise contacting the client and clarifying what he/she considers to be your task in this case.
Best of luck,
Jenny


 

Craig Meulen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translating an Index Nov 19, 2011

Jenny Forbes wrote:
I'd advise contacting the client and clarifying what he/she considers to be your task in this case.


Thanks Jenny.

Actually I'd try never to be this unprofessional/naive and do a paid job where I don't know what I'm doing!

I'm involved in a Buddhist publishing project powered by volunteers and so in this case I AM the client and this is exactly why I posted - I'm trying to clarify the best way to go about this and to assign tasks and organise a workflow for what promises to be a mammoth project.

Regards
Craig


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:42
German to English
I would hire someone to do a new EN index Nov 19, 2011

Hello Craig,

I would definitely hire a professional indexer to do a new English index from the English text (and a single comprehensive index is the rule in English publications, although there are many exceptions if something else would better suit the specific text).

If the original index is more or less directly translated, then it would still need to be carefully edited by a professional because of multiple source or target terms corresponding to single target or source terms, because of common target-language-specific synonyms that need to be cross-referenced, etc. There are probably also fine differences in the way that indexes are organized in different cultures.

1. I have no experience here, so I can't say "generally", but it doesn't seem to make much sense to pay for a translation (and editing) of an index instead of investing that money in a new index.

2. I have no idea. You would have to start collecting offers if you are seriously considering this route.

3. Hopefully someone here has significant experience using automatic indexing, I'd love to learn more about how it works.

4. Localizing is not a sign of disrespect.

Thanks for the interesting question and sorry that I can't offer any experience.

Sincerely,
Michael


 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Forgive me my ignorance... Nov 19, 2011

...but aren't indexes created automatically these days? Every word that is to be indexed receives a tag, and the program (Word, InDesign, ...) then creates an index from all tags words, fully automatic. This also takes care of the correct (alphabetical) order. Just like the Table of Contents.
So, an index shouldn't be translated at all, as all the constituent terms are already translated in the main text.
But, by all means, ask the client how he thinks he will do the index. Better safe than sorry.


 

Alberto Montpellier  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Indexes should not be touched Nov 19, 2011

I agree with Jan Willem's reply: Until recently, I had this problem with indexes as well, since I got started into SDL Trados Studio, and when I completed my documents the Table of Contents disappeared and the word TOC appeared on the Index page. It really infuriated me and I had to translate manually the Index all over again. That's how ignorant I was (and still am).

Then, by sheer luck, on a very fortunate day it occurred to me to right-click on the TOC word and select "Update Fields" and... voilà!! The index was automatically translated into the target language, and also put in alphabetical order, because the headings the markers made reference to had already been translated, and apparently the author had also set up the TOC to be automatically arranged by alphabetical order.

I don't know about InDesign, since my experience with it is very poor, but in MS Word it works like magic, if you are prudent enough as to ignore the index and just go and translate the rest of the document with the relevant headings.

In conclusion... Indexes should be left alone and updated once you finish, I don't know if my reply has been too naïve...


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
Italian to English
Type of Index Nov 19, 2011

I suspect you may be talking about an alphabetical index here Craig are you?

That is obviously a completely different challenge from the sort of index that Jan Willem is talking about, which is more a list of contents, in page number order.


 

Craig Meulen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:42
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Type of Index, Automatisation Nov 20, 2011

Hello all,

Thanks for the answers so far.

The project is to translate a book which we have as an OCR-scanned Word file, which means the original indexes are not embedded.

So we cannot rely on preserving any embedded tags and letting a new index be generated automatically, as AlM and Jan refer to.

There are three indexes. An alphabetical list of persons. An alphabetical list of places. And an alphabetical index. Not a table of contents (although there is one of those at the front of the book as well!).

As far as I'm aware, there is software to automatically trawl a document for a list of keywords and find all the page references. This might be helpful for the list of persons and places. But that generates many references that are not significant, perhaps.

This type of software can also only find index topics that actually occur as direct word combinations. Index topics are, however, often slightly abstracted from the words that occur on the page. For example, an index topic "Fruit" would include page references to passages including text such as "apples and pears are better than lemons and oranges". So an indexer has to manually assign an index tag to this passage.

And I guess this is where the "localisation" of the index topics comes in (thanks for that head-up in answer 4) Michael!). So in effect, generation of a new index in the target language makes more sense than plain translation of the topics in the source language, though I guess a bilingual indexer would be able to save themselves a certain amount of time and effort by drawing upon the work of the source language-indexer?

Once assigned, the actual generation of an index referring to these assigned tags can take place automatically (in Word and InDesign) as far as I know. But then a bit of editing and layouting is still needed, I believe.

Regards

Craig


 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
ToC <> Index Nov 20, 2011

Russell Jones wrote:

I suspect you may be talking about an alphabetical index here Craig are you?

That is obviously a completely different challenge from the sort of index that Jan Willem is talking about, which is more a list of contents, in page number order.


No, you're misinterpreting me. I was not speaking of a Table of Contents, but of an index - which is a list of items in alphabetical order, with an indication of the pages where these items can be found.


 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
Someone has to create an index Nov 20, 2011

Craig Meulen wrote:

Hello all,

Thanks for the answers so far.

The project is to translate a book which we have as an OCR-scanned Word file, which means the original indexes are not embedded.

So we cannot rely on preserving any embedded tags and letting a new index be generated automatically, as AlM and Jan refer to.


Ah, so there are not index codes. Then someone must make them. This is, IMHO, not a translator's task. Of course you can take it upon you to create the codes, but make sure that you're paid independantly for this task, and by the hour. Discuss this with the client. Make sure he doesn't assume this is included with the translation.


 

Neptunia
Local time: 01:42
Italian to English
indexing Nov 24, 2011

I have made an index for a bilingual academic publication and the experience certainly opened my eyes to the fact that it is specialized and sophisticated work. I'm sure my methods were amateurish, but considering various constraints (time, budget, etc.) I was pleased with the results. Essentially I skimmed through the entire book noting down terms that would be in the index. As I worked I realized I needed to fix criteria for myself in order to be consistent. Even with something as simple as alphabetization, I encountered problems I hadn't anticipated. It is very hard to correctly alphabetize names if you don't know which name out of a string of 3, 4, or more is actually the last name as this varies by culture/language. Some names themselves get translated (like Charlemagne) Even with an already established set of terms, I don't believe it can ever be done automatically. Imagine a text about "Versailles" which continues to discuss "the palace" on the next page. The indexer has to actually figure out which pages are relevant, not just which pages contain that search term. There could also be a picture of Versailles on another page which surely the "find" feature isn't going to account for. So anyway, my point is that the indexer or translator of the index has to actually understand the text and in a way have some authority over its interpretation. The text has to obviously be set in stone first though which usually means the index is a last minute rush! Good luck!

 


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