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mirror translation of English semicolons. commas, capitalized words into Spanish?
Thread poster: cmerida

cmerida
Local time: 16:42
May 4, 2012

Please share some of your wisdom with me.

Is it correct to place semicolons/commas in Spanish in the same places where they were in the source English? And, do you capitalize in Spanish the same words that were capitalized in the English source?

I.e. ENGLISH SOURCE:
The Romans built many simple single arch bridges, but they also built bridges that used an array of arches, and even multitiered arches, which made for much sturdier bridges; in fact, many Roman bridges still stand today. In the 12th century, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire took over the construction and maintenance of bridges throughout Europe; they wanted to help Catholic priests move easily throughout the countryside.

SPANISH TRANSLATION:
Los romanos construyeron muchos puentes sencillos de arco simple, pero también construyeron puentes que utilizaron un arreglo de arcos, e incluso arcos de múltiples niveles, que constituyeron puentes mucho más resistentes; de hecho muchos puentes romanos siguen en pie hasta hoy. En el siglo XII, los gobernantes del Santo Imperio Romano se hicieron cargo de la construcción y mantenimiento de puentes a lo largo de Europa; querían ayudar a los sacerdotes católicos a movilizarse fácilmente en las áreas rurales



Thanks!
Claudia


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Short Answer May 4, 2012

No.

In some cases it may be OK and others not. I cannot offer any guidelines, you'll just have to find out for yourself.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I don't think this is a meaningful question. May 4, 2012

Your job is to take a document in English and turn it into one that is accurate, reads well and is correctly punctuated in Spanish. The English punctuation is irrelevant. Likewise capital letters: in your example, Romans is spelled with a capital R, romanos with a lower-case one.

 

cmerida
Local time: 16:42
TOPIC STARTER
A matter of research May 4, 2012

yes, thanks. I was reading more in detail and it seems that ; in Spanish and English have the same purpose so maybe it can be almost automatic to translate the ;.
Claudia.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
No May 5, 2012

Punctuation should be used appropriately in each language, and their use and conventions do not always correspond.

For example, there is a widespread (if not endemic) punctuation error in Spanish (placing an unecessary comma after the subject) which is seldom seen in English, and many writers also seem to be reluctant to use a period at all, with sentences that go on for ever...

There is even some disagreement between variants of English on some puntuation issues, so for me the best policy is to approach the punctuation of each text individually rather than applying "mirroring" or any specific hard and fast usage rules.


 

Marina Soldati  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 21:42
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Henry May 5, 2012

Henry Hinds wrote:

No.

In some cases it may be OK and others not. I cannot offer any guidelines, you'll just have to find out for yourself.


You can get some rules for punctuation and capitalization in Spanish here http://buscon.rae.es/dpdI/

Marina


 

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not always May 5, 2012

I agree with Henry.

Many times the punctuation comes out identical, but sometimes it is very different.
For example, in English hyphens are used instead of commas to separate an idea or place an example within a sentence. I do not recall having seen that in any text originally written in Spanish.
Capitalization is similar, but it is used less in Spanish, for example, in English we capitalize main words in the headings, in Spanish we follow the normal capitalization rules in headings.


 

cmerida
Local time: 16:42
TOPIC STARTER
Language registry when translating semicolons, colons, and capitalization Spanish - English May 5, 2012

Thank you very much to all of you for the prompt and accurate answers. Very much appreciated.

I guess that in the back of my head I also had the issue of language registry.
If my source English has punctuation/capitalization in places where there should/shouldn't be any. (showing some type of low registry in English) I should be able to transfer/reflect that in the translated Spanish too right?

I should not fix the punctuation/capitalization in the translated text. Referring to Neilmac's comment, how do I deal with the 'endemic' issue of long long sentences in Spanish?

Claudia.
p.s. It's great having answers from people who translate Spanish/English in different parts of the world.

[Edited at 2012-05-05 16:33 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-05-05 17:36 GMT]


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never-ending sentences in Spanish May 5, 2012

cmerida wrote:

Referring to Neilmac's comment, how do I deal with the 'endemic' issue of long long sentences in Spanish?

Claudia.


Some time ago, I told myself that if I wanted to produce a natural-sounding text in English, then I would have to add full stops and semi-colons whenever I felt they were necessary. I also realised that the original text has usually not been written by a linguist and there are often a number of mistakes.

It's understandable: engineers, doctors, marketing managers, economists, etc. might know a great deal about their respective professions but they're not language experts.


 

cmerida
Local time: 16:42
TOPIC STARTER
Tension between source text registry and making target text read natural May 5, 2012

Thanks Helena! I am not a linguist either. So I really value your expertise.
How do you handle the tension between language registry and making your target text sound natural? If the source text has long sentences and you ad punctuation to the target text to make it sound natural wouldn't that conflict with the capacity to reflect the source language registry? Wouldn't that be some way to embellish the target text rather than to stick to its source registry?


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Read and breathe! May 5, 2012

cmerida wrote:

Thanks Helena! I am not a linguist either. So I really value your expertise.
How do you handle the tension between language registry and making your target text sound natural? If the source text has long sentences and you ad punctuation to the target text to make it sound natural wouldn't that conflict with the capacity to reflect the source language registry? Wouldn't that be some way to embellish the target text rather than to stick to its source registry?


I don't know what other people do, but I often read both texts aloud. If I find I need to breathe halfway through, then I know I need to add a comma, semi-colon or full stop - always respecting the rules about relative clauses, subjects, etc.

As for embellishing the source text, I don't think this is such a bad thing. At the moment I'm translating a novel - I've only got 21 pages to go - and the writer has told me that he prefers the translated version. Is there any harm in improving a text? I think it would be far worse if we produced something that was sub-standard.

Having said this, I hardly ever add anything and, if I do, I highlight the words I've added and provide an explanation, so the client can decide if he wants to keep them. However, this only usually happens in sales-related texts, when I imagine it's me who's selling the product!


 

cmerida
Local time: 16:42
TOPIC STARTER
Experience has the last word May 6, 2012

Thanks Helena.
It is always good to hear the word of more experienced translators.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
The whole hog May 6, 2012

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington wrote:

I agree with Henry.

Many times the punctuation comes out identical, but sometimes it is very different.
For example, in English hyphens are used instead of commas to separate an idea or place an example within a sentence. I do not recall having seen that in any text originally written in Spanish.


In a book I translated last year, due to English influence the Spanish author used hyphens this way all the time, but usually with one too many, so I had to remove lots of them in the translation. I found it quite amusing and think it looked good in the translated version.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Non sequitur May 6, 2012

cmerida wrote:

Thanks Helena! I am not a linguist either. So I really value your expertise.
How do you handle the tension between language registry and making your target text sound natural? If the source text has long sentences and you ad punctuation to the target text to make it sound natural wouldn't that conflict with the capacity to reflect the source language registry? Wouldn't that be some way to embellish the target text rather than to stick to its source registry?


The register of the text is the register; the punctuation is merely a detail in my opinion. Sometimes you have to split Spanish sentences up to make them "comfortable" for the English-speaking reader. The register per se has little to do with the sentence length. The fact that a text is "formal" doesn't mean that it can'0t look/sound natural and be easy to read and understand.

IMHO the problem is the difference in styles and how they are perceived. Many peopl - in both langauges in question - when unleashed with paper/pen or writing machinery, seem to think that making things long-winded, ponderous and impenetrable makes them somehow more "formal" and adds gravitas. Others disagree.


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:42
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with Neil May 6, 2012

Many people - in both langauges in question - when unleashed with paper/pen or writing machinery, seem to think that making things long-winded, ponderous and impenetrable makes them somehow more "formal" and adds gravitas.

How right you are!


 
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