Back translation not matching, how to indicate?
Thread poster: Ani Vardanyan

Ani Vardanyan
Armenia
Local time: 00:16
English to Armenian
+ ...
Apr 12, 2016

Hello! Here is my problem: I am translating an excerpt quoted in English from an Armenian law back into Armenian. I have the official original Armenian text (which is moreover easily accessible for any Armenian reader) from which it was translated into English, but unfortunately the translation doesn't match completely, and there are certain words ADDED in the English text which don't exist in the Armenian and which were not necessary at all in the English. So, I wonder if there is a certain way to translate these words back into Armenian but mark that it was written like that in the English text. I am thinking of something like the abbreviation [sic], but I don't think you can apply it to translations.

p.s. It doesn't matter if you don't know Armenian, if you would say how you would behave in such a situation, say, in case of a Spanish-to-English back-translation, it would help me as well!


 

Paula D  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
Member (2013)
Turkish to English
back translation Apr 13, 2016

The sole purpose of back translation is to find out whether the translation is correct or not. So you should mark everywhere you think the translation differs from the original text. The translator may have misunderstood the text or may have simply added extra words to make the text flow better or make it easier to understand. I would mark the areas that differ from the original text and write whether or not it affects the meaning - the meaning is what the client is interested in, rather whether there are some extra words.

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:16
German to English
back translation? Apr 13, 2016

If it is a back translation - that is, a translation of a translated text back into the original language for the purpose of checking its accuracy - then you should ignore the original and do your best to translate exactly what you have in front of you. The same might apply if it is some sort of official translation for the use of a court or civil administration, etc.

However, your description makes it sound like it is simply a translation of an Armenian source within the context of an article written in English. In that case, you ought to quote the actual (original) Armenian law, unless the deviations in the English version are relevant for the arguments made and the facts presented in the article. If the author has based his or her work on a misunderstanding/mistranslation of the law, then you will have to ask the client how you should deal with this problem.


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Fairy tale Apr 13, 2016

A back translation doesn't exist. Let two translators translate the same text, and you get two different results (let stand alone when these texts are translated back in the original language).

As Paula puts it: The sole purpose of back translation is to find out whether the translation is correct or not, and I would like to add: used as a mean of advertisement by agencies to sell themselves.

In short: A back translation = A fairy tale.


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Back translation Apr 13, 2016

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

Let two translators translate the same text, and you get two different results.



Sure, wording can and will differ, but if the translations differ in meaning, at least one of those translations is just wrong.

There seems to be the misunderstanding that a back translation should come out as closely as possible to the original source text (or that the extent to which it does can be used to measure the quality of the first translation). That's nonsense, of course. However, what you can find out with a back translation is whether the first translation contains any factual errors.


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Do not back translate Apr 13, 2016

I would not back translate this, but would use the original, Armenian version. However, I would advise the client straight away that I had done so and inform them of the problem with the English translation of that passage in the text I was translating. The client would then have a chance, before delivery to comment on how I had chosen to proceed and we could discuss it.

 

Ani Vardanyan
Armenia
Local time: 00:16
English to Armenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
NOT a "back-translation test" Apr 13, 2016

Thank you very much for your answers! It is NOT a back translation test (I'm sorry for the misunderstanding I have created), but rather a passage quoted from an Armenian law in an original English report which is now being translated.

 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 01:46
English to Hindi
+ ...
I would use the original Armenian version Apr 13, 2016

I would use the originl Armenian version in the Armenian translation, too.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:16
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
exactly Apr 13, 2016

Michael Wetzel wrote:

If it is a back translation - that is, a translation of a translated text back into the original language for the purpose of checking its accuracy - then you should ignore the original and do your best to translate exactly what you have in front of you. The same might apply if it is some sort of official translation for the use of a court or civil administration, etc.

However, your description makes it sound like it is simply a translation of an Armenian source within the context of an article written in English. In that case, you ought to quote the actual (original) Armenian law, unless the deviations in the English version are relevant for the arguments made and the facts presented in the article. If the author has based his or her work on a misunderstanding/mistranslation of the law, then you will have to ask the client how you should deal with this problem.


If the additions in the English "translation" are not important to the thrust of the article you should probably just put the original Armenian text there.

Otherwise, for a real back translation the rule is to translate the translation as it reads in the target language.
We had to do heaps of these for a company needing to check whether their instructions for pesticide use had been translated properly or not, further to animals falling sick in certain countries. Many translators simply located the original English instructions on the web and stuck them in there, pretending they had translated the text, and I had several times to write back and say that no, that was not what I was asking for and we're certainly not paying for that as you didn't translate a word of it. Most of those translators were struck off our database. Luckily the client was not in a tearing hurry.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:16
Chinese to English
Sic is OK Apr 13, 2016

Or you can just make up your own convention:

"In the following translation, the words in italics are included in the English version, but do not appear in the original Armenian law."


 

Claire Knell
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
French to English
+ ...
Back vs literal translation and back translation of proper nouns Apr 14, 2016

I came across this topic whilst searching for some advice on a back translation I am doing from French > English.

What strikes me whilst doing this translation is the fine line between translating in an overly literal manner and simply trying to indicate issues with the translation to the client. Oftentimes I know what the translator is trying to say but think she/he could perhaps have worded it better, which makes me think that a simple proofreading would be better than a back translation. It is almost difficult to translate something in a clumsy way, when normally I would just ignore it and go with the neat translation/interpretation in English. Not sure if I am being clear here, but hope you know what I mean!

I also have a question about back translation, specifically the translation of proper nouns, for example the text I am translating into English (which has already been translated into French from English), refers to:

"...les instituts Américains de la santé (National Institutes of Health)..."

So do I translate this as:

1) "...the American institutes of health (National Institutes of Health)..."

OR, do I make that direct leap, knowing full well that "instituts Américains de la santé" clearly refers to the NIH?

2) "...the National Institutes of Health..."

How faithful/literal am I meant to be? Normally (when not doing a back translation) I would go with option 2) as "the American institutes of health" seems redundant in 1), but for the purposes of a back translation do I need to go with it (1) anyway?

Thanks in advance for any advice!icon_smile.gif


 

Ani Vardanyan
Armenia
Local time: 00:16
English to Armenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
keep both Apr 15, 2016

Phil Hand wrote:

Or you can just make up your own convention:

"In the following translation, the words in italics are included in the English version, but do not appear in the original Armenian law."


This is certainly the best option. I would go with it but for certain "corporate complications".icon_biggrin.gif


Claire Knell,

I think if your client is aware that it IS a back translation, not a translation for an end-user, it is in any case safer to keep both: the American institutes of health (National Institutes of Health).


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sic transit... Apr 16, 2016

Phil Hand wrote:

Or you can just make up your own convention:

"In the following translation, the words in italics are included in the English version, but do not appear in the original Armenian law."


This seems the most logical, sensible and hassle-free solution to me. Or you could highlight the offending additions in colour (although whether what the asker perceives as extraneous add-ons are actually required or not in the original translation to fully express the notion of the source legal text is moot).

[Edited at 2016-04-16 08:18 GMT]


 

Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:16
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
What I would do Apr 18, 2016

Hello.

I think [sic] would suffice, in my opinion.

You can also add a note, as some colleagues have already suggested (not very long, though: "the English version adds the word X.")

But there's another way of translating it, if you can: indirect or reported speech. It's an old trick to avoid troubles.

I'm sorry I can't speak Armenianicon_frown.gif .



[Edited at 2016-04-18 17:54 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
The customer wants solutions, not problems. Apr 18, 2016

I would just insert the correct Armenian and a note explaining why. And I still think some people are misuderstanding the question.

[Edited at 2016-04-18 18:19 GMT]


 


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