Debits and credits
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 14, 2016

Hello everyone

I'm translating a non-financial, non-accounting text that mentions credits and crediting of accounts. It is for a gaming portal -- you have to pay to play, and you can also sometimes get money back. Sometimes, you don't get "money" back, but tokens (which they call "credits"), but at other times, you get real money back, which is paid into your bank account.

I have no problem translating "credits" as "credits" when it refers to tokens. In a few rare cases, the word "credits" is used in the sense of something having been credited with money, but mostly it means "tokens", and I can usually see which meaning is which.

What bugs me is "credit" (verb). The text may say "your account will be credited with $100" (and this means that $100 of real money paid into the user's real bank account), and of course I know what the text is trying to say, but really, it should be "debited", since money is coming in (not going out, from the user's perspective).

Would you treat "credited" in such sentences as a source text error and translate it as "debited", or would you take the pragmatic approach and translate it as "credited" even though it means "debited" (perhaps because you suspect some editor will change it back, or because some proofreader will tell the client that you're a rubbish translator, or even (gasp!) some lawyer whose understanding of debits and credits is based on how debit cards and credit cards work will advise the client to file suit)?

I can try to avoid the word "credit[ed]" but it would be hard. I don't have easy access to the client.

Samuel




[Edited at 2016-09-14 13:51 GMT]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
I would translate with the meaning of 'debit' (i.e. adding money to account) Sep 14, 2016

Because in my target language (Russian) the verbs credit and debit (in non-accounting contexts) are not cognates of the nouns credit and debit.

I believe you should disengage yourself from the source English terms and simply translate accurately within the realm of your target language.

[Edited at 2016-09-14 13:52 GMT]


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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:55
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
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The text is correct as is Sep 14, 2016

I agree with the text's usage. To credit an account means to put money into it, and to debit an account means to take money out of it. These meanings should be very easy to confirm all around the web. Thus in the US you can sign to pay some bills via 'direct debit' - as if you wrote a check but as a direct transfer. Note that this use of 'credit' is related but not quite the same as a 'credit card'. However, this use of 'debit' is exactly as in a 'debit card' - when you use it, it debits your account, i.e. takes money out of it.

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:55
Member (2008)
French to English
Non-accounting use Sep 14, 2016

Tim Friese wrote:

I agree with the text's usage. To credit an account means to put money into it, and to debit an account means to take money out of it. These meanings should be very easy to confirm all around the web. Thus in the US you can sign to pay some bills via 'direct debit' - as if you wrote a check but as a direct transfer. Note that this use of 'credit' is related but not quite the same as a 'credit card'. However, this use of 'debit' is exactly as in a 'debit card' - when you use it, it debits your account, i.e. takes money out of it.


To clarify, this is correct for non-accounting purposes only and would apply in the OP's case.

In accounting, the opposite is true. An asset's value is increased by debiting it (such as a company's bank account on its financial statements) while the value of a liability increases by crediting it.

But in common, non-accounting use crediting my account at the bank or on a website is understood to mean putting money into it.


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jlrsnyder  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:55
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with John and Tim Sep 14, 2016

Having worked in a bank and having written financial software for a bank, I agree with John and Tim. When you credit an account, you put money into it and increase the balance, when you debit an account, you take money out of it and decrease the balance.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Let me rephrase Sep 14, 2016

Tim Friese wrote:
To credit an account means to put money into it, and to debit an account means to take money out of it.


John Fossey wrote:
But in common, non-accounting use crediting my account at the bank or on a website is understood to mean putting money into it.


jlrsnyder wrote:
Having worked in a bank and having written financial software for a bank ... When you credit an account, you put money into it and increase the balance, when you debit an account, you take money out of it and decrease the balance.


Yes, of course, in colloquial everyday English, "to credit an account" means to add money to it. I understand that perfectly. That is why I understand that the source text author is trying to say. So let me rephrase my question: if you were translating into a language in which [the direct translation of] "credit" (verb) only or primarily had the accounting meaning and not the street meaning, how would you deal with it?


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TranslateThis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Forget the accounting use and translate the meaning. Sep 14, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

Yes, of course, in colloquial everyday English, "to credit an account" means to add money to it. I understand that perfectly. That is why I understand that the source text author is trying to say. So let me rephrase my question: if you were translating into a language in which [the direct translation of] "credit" (verb) only or primarily had the accounting meaning and not the street meaning, how would you deal with it?


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Sara Massons  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:55
Member (2016)
English to French
+ ...
Try to find the "street" word for it in the target language Sep 15, 2016

if you were translating into a language in which [the direct translation of] "credit" (verb) only or primarily had the accounting meaning and not the street meaning, how would you deal with it?


As you said, the text you are dealing with has nothing to do with specific bank or accounting language thus try to find the "general language" word in the target language to express the meaning in the source text. In French I think you can use "créditer" but "débiter" would sound weird. I would perhaps use "retirer" and "ajouter" if it fit in the sentence (eg. "your 'whatever it is' acount wil be credited by xxx" -> "xxx objets quelques seront ajoutés à votre compte")


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:55
German to English
slang or standard usage? Sep 15, 2016

I agree with TranslateThis.

And I also wouldn't consider the everyday meanings of "credit" and "debit" to be slang or otherwise inaccurate. Merriam Webster's and Oxford's both only list adding money to someone's account as a possible meaning of the verb "credit" and don't list it as slang. I had not even been aware that "credit" and "debit" have another meaning in the context of accounting, but I would consider this to be the specialized usage or jargon (and not the other way around).

Simply take the standard word for transferring money to someone's account. "False enemies" might not be as common as "false friends", but I can think of several off the top of my head.


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