Are you a consumer of translations?
Thread poster: Lincoln Hui

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 23:16
Chinese to English
+ ...
Aug 12, 2015

As a translator, I prefer to work from Chinese to English over the reverse pair, because I read Chinese better and write English better.

I am not sure I have ever had occasion to read anything translated from Chinese to English in the entirety of my existence.

The last time that I really had to read something translated from English (as a consumer), I was in primary school. Maybe from time to time, and I admit that my eyes naturally tend to stray towards the Chinese portion of any multilingual sign/instruction, but I always end up reading the English anyway, provided that it was the original, since it is inevitably more accurate. In all cases without exception I have zero need of translations from English.

A significant portion of my work comes from video games. It goes without saying that I have never played a game translated from Chinese into English, but I have also never in my life played a game in Chinese, translated from any language or otherwise. My entire lexicon of Chinese gaming terminology therefore comes exclusively from reading guidebooks and prowling message boards, which I draw on for both language pairs.

Perhaps related is the acquisition of lexicographical knowledge in a language. For example, everything I learned about music I learned in English (or Italian, as it may). When I do translation work involving music, I actually had to learn the entire Chinese music vocabulary from scratch, because I had next to no exposure to it in twenty years of music education. On the other hand, I had no idea what I was reading the first time I picked up a menu in an American restaurant. Or even now, come to think of it.

It stands to reason that translators have less need of translation in their life than virtually any other profession. How often do you, as a consumer, make use of translations in your language pairs (and their reverse), and have you ever felt any disadvantage arising from your lack of need for translations?

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:16
Chinese to English
Translations of classical stuff Aug 12, 2015

I've read some English versions of contemporary Chinese novels. But I agree that being a translator makes you more able to identify translations, and better at finding the originals.

I've used plenty of translations from other languages - French books, German instruction manuals, Japanese go texts, etc.

But in Chinese the category I spend most time reading translations in is classical literature. Whenever it comes up in a job, I try to compare and contrast multiple English and 今译 versions; and I like philosophy and poetry, so I sometimes read them for pleasure as well.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:16
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I am currently reading... Aug 12, 2015

Cixin Liu's The Dark Forest translated by Joel Martinsen:

and Cixin Liu's Three Body Problem translated by Ken Liu:

Hopefully, the third part will be translated soon.

I also bought the Chinese versions, but my Chinese isn't good enough to read them yet:

One of my goals is to be able to read Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 in Japanese (I read the English translation):

Edited to add: I also purchased the Arabic translation of Lord of the Rings trilogy translated by a member!

Lincoln Hui wrote:

[Edited at 2015-08-12 12:20 GMT]

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:16
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Japanese - English pair Aug 12, 2015

I formerly worked extensively on the Japanese - English pair. There is a special type of language: Japanese English that is used by Japanese people toward foreigners. It contains a number of non-standard English phrases and reading good JP-EN works improved my commanding of the English language.
Chinese and Japanese have common characters and word-by-word translation induces mistakes. I now consume good translation via Internet e.g. websites, YouTube materials. This makes my life better.

In addition, my translation jobs make me enjoy enrichment with plenty of knowledge, business secrecy, literature appreciation etc. while clients pay for the materials I read and carefully translate.

Soonthon L.

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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, sometimes Aug 12, 2015

I prefer to read originals whenever I have the chance, but I have read books or extracts from English to Spanish and viceversa. I have seen dubbed films as well, even if I am not really a fan of dubbing. Sometimes, it has been due to the lack of availability of original versions. I have lived in small cities and places where there was nothing but the translated version available. Things have changed throughout the years. It is increasingly easier to get hold of an original because you can just order it off the Internet but I remember that in my teens online shopping was not as widespread or user friendly as it is now and books seemed to be more expensive but I may be wrong on that.

I have also consumed translations out of curiosity, to take a look at other translators' decisions when working with a language I can understand. It is a learning opportunity in many respects.

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