Should we translate Latin abbrevations?
Thread poster: mallis
Mar 19, 2012

To those who translate from German into Polish and other way around. How should I translate a title: Obywatel in actu - should I leave this original abbrevation in Latin and translate it: Burger in actu?

Thx for the hints!



MM^^  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Chinese to French
+ ...
Yes I thing Mar 19, 2012

I don't know for the other specialities but in law a text/sentence with an untranslated abbreviation cannot be understood (it is my experience as student).


Sabine Akabayov, PhD
Local time: 20:46
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Depends on the situation Mar 19, 2012

Latin is very commonly used in science, medicine and law and widely understood by people in these fields. Therefore, I would not necessarily translate Latin abbreviations/phrases (and actually "in actu" is not an abbreviation but a phrase). You need to figure out who the audience of your text is and if the usage of Latin in this audience is common or not.
It would also have to be "Bürger" not "Burger" (or at least "Buerger").

[Edited at 2012-03-19 17:50 GMT]


Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Also, Mar 19, 2012

I don't translate German into Polish, but this issue occurs in other language pairs too!

Whilst I agree with sibsab, I feel there's another aspect to this question - I'm being paid to translate *my language pair*, and not any other language that might also be thrown into the pot as well.


Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:46
Italian to English
Research Mar 19, 2012

I quite often come across this issue. Italian uses quite a lot of Latin expressions and many of them are also found in English, albeit sometimes only in specialist fields such as law or accademia.

Google shows 13,400 examples of "in actu" in German language websites but not a single example of "Burger / Bürger / Buerger in actu".


Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Italian to English
English, Italian and Latin Mar 19, 2012

Russell Jones wrote:

I quite often come across this issue. Italian uses quite a lot of Latin expressions and many of them are also found in English

They don't always mean the same thing, though.

For example, "quid pro quo", which in medieval Latin medical texts indicated remedies that could be substituted for others, is used in English to refer to an exchange of favours (or hostilities) yet "qui (NB no "d") pro quo" in Italian means a mistaking one thing for another.

@Denise: Translators are hired to translate texts, not language pairs. If you can't translate a phrase, you can always get someone to help you, although the service might entail a fee. This is why it's not a great idea to quote on jobs without examining the text beforehand. You might need to factor in one-off costs.

[Edited at 2012-03-19 20:56 GMT]


PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
English to Polish
+ ...
Yes or no Mar 20, 2012

You must decide whether a given Latin phrase/ abbreviation is used commonly in the target language.
Some terms are used so commonly in English, that no one ever thinks they're straight Latin (etc., vice versa), but some others are obviously Latin - especially in legal language.

So, translating from English into Polish, I will always translate commonly used Latin terms like "etc." or "status quo" into the appropriate Polish term because these terms are not commonly used in Polish.

Conversely, translating into English, I will translate terms commonly used in Polish - like "in situ", "sensu stricto" into English, not leaving them in Latin.

[Edited at 2012-03-20 10:10 GMT]


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Caveat emptor Mar 20, 2012

Leaving them in Latin is a sine qua non.

Non plus ultra.


PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
English to Polish
+ ...
Pre-emptor Mar 20, 2012

Tom, so you are not de facto advocating a priori to maintain the status quo. I sincerely hope this is bona fide advice, not merely an ad hoc comment.

[Edited at 2012-03-20 11:13 GMT]


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Should we translate Latin abbrevations?

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