Shall we use the \"modern\" and widely used English word or insist on using the local equivalent?
Thread poster: Irina Ivanova

Irina Ivanova
Local time: 00:28
Russian to English
+ ...
Apr 22, 2002

After 8 years of working in a bi-lingual Czech-English environment in Prague and a couple of months back in my native Bulgaria where I work as a translator it seems to me that we can have quite an impact on the development on the language.

Take business, for example. In Central and Eastern Europe the language was frozen for 40 odd years in terms of developing business terminology (and a bit longer than that in Russia!). It took several years in Prague to agree on a local equivalent of the simple word \"developer\" (as in real estate developer) - the Cz equivalent sounded too old fashioned (last time it was properly used was in the 1930s).

Same in Bulgaria - do I use the English work \"manager\" (spelled in Cyrillic of course) or a Bulgarian equivalent which might sound a bit old-fashioned.

I am a purist so I try to stick to the Cz or Bulg word whenever possible, but I would like to hear from other translators working in developing markets.



jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:28
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Know your target audience Apr 22, 2002

While I do not work in a developing market, working into English presents the same problem.

Do I put it into colloquial American or not? Do I write for the engineers, sales staff, or upper management?

The question you have to ask is, what is the target audience. If the translation is for information only at a local company, use the words that THEY will understand. If it is for a worldwide audience, avoid the local words that might be misunderstood and go with standard terms.

This has worked for me for over 25 years (oh my, has it been THAT long?).


Yakov Tomara  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
It's up to you Apr 22, 2002


Same in Bulgaria - do I use the English work \"manager\" (spelled in Cyrillic of course) or a Bulgarian equivalent which might sound a bit old-fashioned.

I am a purist so I try to stick to the Cz or Bulg word whenever possible, but I would like to hear from other translators working in developing markets.


In my opinion you and only you have to choose. You are part of the process, not an observer. Your \"gut reaction \" should be your first counsel, the second being of course the prevailing usage if it exists.

Good luck.


Yngve Roennike  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:28
Swedish to English
+ ...
Trend Apr 22, 2002

I thought about this type of thing recently. It seems that English words often are in vogue once they are introduced, but after a while the novelty wears off and a domestic word takes over along common consent lines. Usually, it is an older indigineous word that gets revived and polished off. One example although not typical, is the ubiquitous About Us on e.g., webpages, or about this manual, etc.


Local time: 00:28
English to German
+ ...
I'm another purist! Apr 22, 2002


On 2002-04-22 12:30, IrinaBG wrote:

I am a purist so I try to stick to the Cz or Bulg word whenever possible,...

I have the same problem from time to time, because some words simply don\'t exist (yet) and this is, of course, never understood by the outsourcers. For them the only question is: can you do it, yes or no (which is not very smart, but that\'s how they are)?

So in the end you have no other choice, than sometimes give your best shot and create it, if it doesn\'t exist. Just make sure it\'s understandable and that\'s it! Of course, I have a hard time with this, because I\'m also a purist and thus share the same vision with you that whenever possible, avoid the English and try to find a Czech, Bulgarian, Hungarian or Polish word for that. The only caution I would advise to take is that we should first check, whether a widely used new term has been already created or not, before we make up our own version. And yes, sometimes it gives me the chills, when I hit such words that may be widely used, but are such a thoughtless choice, like for example translating \"drive\" and \"driver\" (IT field) into Hungarian by the same word \"meghajtó\". I feel my blood boiling when I see that...


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 00:28
German to English
+ ...
Get active and creative, folks Apr 22, 2002

Yes, it comes down to your target audience.

But as far as languages are concerned that make heavy use of English terms because they don\'t have their own (yet), I believe, we, as professional linguists, are called upon to do something about that.

For example, see the recent article I posted to the ProZ forum regarding the Bible translation for the Inuit people (they don\'t have words for palm-trees, etc., but a whole group of translators got together and added more wealth to their own language).


Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:28
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
The outsourcer has the last word Apr 22, 2002

I also try to use Spanish words always, if possible; however, it is always important to take into account that the translated term has to be understood by the target audience, and if the translation has not been \"officially\" accepted by most people, as it often happens, for example, with new technologies, you run the risk of not being understood. For instance, a possible translation into Spanish for \"networking\" (IT) would be \"conectividad de redes,\" but not everyone uses this term, and it is possible that a target reader would say \"Conectividad de redes? What\'s that? Oh, they meant \"networking\"!

So, in the end, what I do is ask the outsourcer which is the terminology they prefer. If they understand better the word in English, fine. I think anything that is not incorrect is acceptable if the target reader understands it better.

About what Werner says (it wasn\'t there when I posted my message first):

You are right of course. What I say is that it is not always possible to use a translation, but if it is at all possible to use a new term in Spanish, that\'s what I prefer to do (I only use the English when the client insists).

But of course, translations are \"invented\" all the time. When I started working as a translator, there wasn\'t any translation for \"pop-up menu\" and \"drop-down menu,\" but even so I translated these terms as \"menú emergente\" and \"menú desplegable,\" because I thought these terms were self-descriptive, and therefore easily understood. I was very pleased when later on these translations began to be generally used. Of course, I don\'t think everybody copied me, icon_smile.gif !but simply that most translators arrived to the same conclusion.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-22 18:24 ]


Irina Ivanova
Local time: 00:28
Russian to English
+ ...
Good to hear from other language purists! May 8, 2002

Thanks for all the answers and examples! I was away from my desk for some time (work and then orthodox Easter holidays) so was quite pleased to see quite a few responses to my posting & am glad to hear that I am not the only one worried about the over-use of English, particularly in marketing, software etc.

By the way, I still have not found a viable alternative in Bulgarian for a pop-up menu, but it is good to hear that you managed that in Spain!


Arthur Borges
Local time: 13:28
+ ...
Metamorphosis May 21, 2002

I agree with colleagues who say we are part of a process. In the Hindu caste system, we are manual labourers (we are penpushers, right?), and I sometimes see myself as a water tap: so long as I faithfully deliver running water into the home, nobody talks about me and everything is fine. But when \"water tap\" comes up in the conversation, I know that someone is about to call in a plumber who will wring my neck.

But to focus on Bulgaria and what you tactfully call \"the changes\", they run deep into the mindset of an entire people and culture, causing really deep psychological and emotional upheaval. This must overhaul language, and vocabulary is the first victim.

Back in World War I, the Americans looked at the sauerkraut on their hotdogs and found it unpatriotic, so it briefly became \"Liberty cabbage. Then that war ended, and that persecuted veggie got its name back. Likewise, I suspect some of the trendy English words will disappear, but some will stay.

English has been flooding into French, especially since 1945: people side with winners because...they won. Local monoglots found themselves directly experiencing things for which they had no name, so they simply took the name it came with. Thus we have \"talkie-walkie\" (not the original \"walkie-talkie\", \"jeep\", \"email\" (and not the lovelier, more intelligent Canadian French \"courriel\" from \"courrier\" and \"éléctronique\"). After all, not everybody is a born translator.


José Cavalcante  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends upon the customer too Jun 5, 2002

Specially consulting companies of English language like to see some terms in the source form. I do as they like and translate them for other customers that are more concerned with an user-friendly communication to the public.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Shall we use the \"modern\" and widely used English word or insist on using the local equivalent?

Advanced search

Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search