Dealing with Already-Translated Content in a Translation
Thread poster: Peter Ross

Peter Ross  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 04:39
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...
Feb 24, 2016

We all have documents in which some of the content is already translated. Passports, Drivers Licences, ID Cards are some examples. At present I'm working on medical documents.

I'm wondering if anyone knows of any official practices that have been written up online about what to do. For example:

- Your finished document will/won't have duplicate content in places where which where already bilingual
- The bilingual header which is the name of the company/organisation should/shouldn't be kept (consider that the source script but not even be legible).
- When your preferred translation or perceived accurate translation of the content varies from the already existing content in the form you should....

Thanks

Peter


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
- Feb 24, 2016

I think you just have to use common sense

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ignore it Feb 24, 2016

If it just concerns a few words here and there, I would ignore it and simply give your own translation.

If it does concern a substantial amount such as paragraph or more, set it off in your translation by indenting, italics or both and give it a heading in square brackets that says [translated text in the original document].


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Peter Ross  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 04:39
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Machine-like Precision Feb 24, 2016

Chris - Unfortunately we don't always share the same common sense - but if I think "purpose of document" this idea helps.

Tina - Giving my own translation is my preference, but I'm conscious that a user making a casual comparison would probably be confused if Target language content in the Source doc couldn't be found in the Translation, as that often provides a point of reference.

I was hoping for a general pattern of working sporadic content in a large number of documents over time - a rule-based way of working so that doesn't require case-by-case decision making.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Some basic general princples Feb 24, 2016

Rule 1: if in doubt, ask the client. It's their text!

Then you can ask yourself:
1. Is it well translated? If so, keep it and fit your translation round it. If not, improve on it!

Sometimes I see sections of websites or other texts that the client has translated, because they need to get the information out, but they want me to re-translate them.
They may be machine-translated, or sound like non-native English. If there is any special terminology, I pick it up, but otherwise I ignore these sections. You have to make sure that terminology is correct too - many clients check that at least, but not all of them!

2. Is it something the client wants to keep, because has already been professionally translated earlier, and you are being asked to add to or update the text?

If so, you need to make sure the style of your translation matches it. You use the same terminology and so on.

But basically, as Chris S. says, you simply have to use your common sense.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
@Peter Feb 25, 2016

If you want to give the client a point of reference, make sure you format your translation exactly the same as the original, so that they can see at a glance that everything is there - no need for detailed comparison. When you are asked for a translation, it means that the original, even with the existing translations, is not sufficient for their purpose, so give them what they want: your translation. That has been my golden rule for translating official documents for the past twenty years and no-one has ever commented on it.

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Peter Ross  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 04:39
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
3 Principles for Dealing with Already-Translated Content Feb 26, 2016

Based here on the function of Medical Insurance Translation, which is to provide content for insurance assessment, here are 3 principles I've come up with:

1. Maintain bilingual headers,e.g. with bilingual name of company/organization and address (no loss of content, preserves visual appearance/ease of identification and bilingual intent of header, saves on cost and time - image clip)
2. Maintain existing translations in recognizable form, except for grammatical or corrections or corrections based on official terminology. (Terminology in official lists may be wrong, but independently correcting these is not always the answer.)
3. Do not include duplicated content in target document, eg. Name (Name). Date (Date). Total (Total). This helps deal with errors in already-translated content, and doesn't artificially push up the word count.

RE: Ask the client: I'm looking for principles that save individual-case questions.
RE: Maintaining formatting, I'm all for it - where the SL genre allows. With official crests, there's a school that says don't duplicate these [refer to by text only], but I've taken to using downgraded images to maintain visual orientation.

Looking at govt admin in Australia and Vietnam, document forgery has become a major concern over the last decade. The more look-alike documents with legal implications become, the more necessary it is to mark them as TRANSLATION, especially if they have "ORIGINAL" stamped all over them!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:39
Chinese to English
My approach Feb 26, 2016

I'm assuming you mean translated into your target language? So for both of us, you mean the situation where a Thai/Chinese document has some English words on it?

I think I do handle these in a systematic way. The first question is, is this an official translation of an official document? If it's some kind of government certificate and it contains the Chinese government's official English wording, and the translation is to be used for official purposes, I would retain the original English. Sometimes that English is wrong or misleading, in which case I would give a clearer version either in parentheses or in a translator's note.

In all other cases, I treat "English" words in the text as source words to be translated, or possibly to be ignored if they are just a repetition of some Chinese text. Occasionally, as you say, that can produce surprises for someone casually comparing source and target texts, but that can be dealt with in an explanatory note. My experience is that most "English" in my source documents is highly localised or wrong, and it would be an error to copy it into my target documents.


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Texte Style
Local time: 23:39
French to English
ha! Feb 27, 2016

Chris S wrote:

I think you just have to use common sense


I hope you're being your usual hysterically funny self here,

for those who don't read the quick polls for a quick daily dose of your particularly peculiarly comic line of patter, I feel compelled to point out that

judging from life in general and the mind-numbing questions students asked in the theory lessons I had to attend to get my masters in particular, this is by no means a foolproof way of going about anything.

"common sense", the world's greatest misnomer.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:09
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
My approach Feb 29, 2016

I sometimes translate into English educational records (marksheets/degrees) issued by Indian universities, and other personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates. Since in India, English is the official language of the government, most of these documents are bilingual, ie, they are printed in the local language, such as Hindi, as well as in English, usually in the same document.

They often take the form of a fill-in-the-blank type of standard format where the general text is printed (in local language and English), while the variable texts such as names, dates, addresses, etc., are written, often in handwriting, only in the local language, in the blank spaces provided in the format of these documents.

The English content is pretty good, as they are carefully edited and proof-read by people who know English at an advanced level, and as these formats are reprinted over and over again without any change for years and years.

So there is not much scope to improve on the English that is there in these documents, and I just repeat the English text in my English translation and fill in in English the variable text, such as names, etc.

There is a practical reason behind doing this too, for if my translation is found to be different from the English already there in the bilingual original document, someone could raise doubts about the accuracy of my translation. Since these translations are needed for legal purposes, such as for emigration or for admission to foreign universities, these translations need to be accurate, and in some cases I am also required to certify in writing about the accuracy of my translation.

Since I charge a lump-sum fee for these translations, it realy doesn't matter whether I count the English words aready there in the document or not while invoicing.


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