Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Hesitancy to use regional US/UK terms
Thread poster: G. L.

G. L.
United States
Local time: 04:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 11

I just translated a text that was supposed to be Finnish -> UK English. However, there was one place where I was hesitant to use UK English terminology.

The text made repeated references to flashlights, which are commonly called "torches" in the UK. This use of "torch" is not widely known here in the US, and since "torch" already means something different for us, there is a risk of severe misunderstanding (or at least confusion) when an English speaker from the US sees this term used in a UK text. (By contrast, as far as I know, "flashlight" doesn't have a widespread, UK-specific meaning that would conflict with the North American one -- in the UK English dictionaries I've consulted, the first meaning listed for "flashlight" is the one prevalent in US/Canada.)

In this case, even though I had been told to translate the text into UK English, I wasn't sure that the text would be disseminated to an entirely UK-internal audience. So, I opted for "flashlight" instead of "torch."

Would you say that this was the right thing to do? I'm still fairly new to translating, so I'm curious what others think.

[Edited at 2018-02-11 03:59 GMT]


 

xxxttp_doza  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:11
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Hesitancy to use regional US/UK terms Feb 11

Hi G.L., even if you're not sure whether your translation will be published also in the US, I think you did the right thing. Any English-speaking person in the US might discover more expressions than the "flashlight" that may seem unusual to them, let alone the differences in spelling.
In my 30+ experience of working in the translation industry I always found it good practice to follow the instructions provided by clients. However, just as an extra precaution: If there is time, explain the situation to your client and have them confirm that it is okay to use "flashlight". If this is not possible, add a clear comment explaining the reason for using this expression when you deliver your translation. That way, you're on the safe side, even if the translation is published in the US.

Regards,
Dorita


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Provide what the client asked for Feb 11

If you were asked to translate to UK English, then my view is that you should provide a text that sounds natural in UK English and uses British terms, without considering whether Americans might understand it or not. There are many British terms Americans don't understand.

If they asked you for a text that could be understood both by Britons and Americans, it would be another matter, but that does not seem to be the case.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Does the text give an indication of the sort of torch/flashlight? Feb 11

I'm British and I'd be very happy to hear the object in this link called a flashlight (although I might also call it a torch): https://www.google.es/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/14/High_power_torch.jpg/220px-High_power_torch.jpg&imgrefurl=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashlight&docid=Am22yvbHBGVHBM&tbnid=PwxxhnAeUWBu9M:&vet=12ahUKEwiK86z97J7ZAhUHSsAKHYp8Dmg4yAEQMygQMBB6BAgAEBI..i&w=220&h=147&safe=off&client=firefox-b&bih=1022&biw=2144&q=torch%20flashlight&ved=2ahUKEwiK86z97J7ZAhUHSsAKHYp8Dmg4yAEQMygQMBB6BAgAEBI&iact=mrc&uact=8

OTOH, this little thing is definitely a torch to me, as is the one on my mobile phone: https://www.google.es/imgres?imgurl=http://img.pelican.com/img/products/light/1810/peli-1810-brightest-led-keychain-torch-t.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.peli.com/eu/en/products/tactical-dive-flashlights-headlamps/&docid=rtN2nIrufqAtAM&tbnid=ZK1avKhK0p1FxM:&vet=12ahUKEwidlYry7J7ZAhXlKMAKHQWgCvU4ZBAzKEswS3oECAAQUA..i&w=400&h=400&safe=off&client=firefox-b&bih=1022&biw=2144&q=torch%20flashlight&ved=2ahUKEwidlYry7J7ZAhXlKMAKHQWgCvU4ZBAzKEswS3oECAAQUA&iact=mrc&uact=8

Just because Americans see a torch only as something with a flame doesn't mean that Brits can't use the word for both purposes. We talk about the Olympic torch, (flaming) garden torches, welding torches and blowtorches, including the ones used for making crème brûlée. Just because you use a word for one purpose doesn't mean it can't be used for another. But we're also happy with the word flashlight, especially if it flashes and/or it's big and powerful.

[Edited at 2018-02-11 22:10 GMT]


 

G. L.
United States
Local time: 04:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Does the text give an indication of the sort of torch/flashlight? Feb 12

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I'm British and I'd be very happy to hear the object in this link called a flashlight (although I might also call it a torch): [link]

OTOH, this little thing is definitely a torch to me, as is the one on my mobile phone: [link]


The flashlight in question here is a UV flashlight, used to facilitate chemical reactions in the substances that it is trained on. I don't know the precise size/shape of it, if that makes a difference to the "torch"/"flashlight" question.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Actually Feb 12

Americans shouldn’t be translating into British English, period.

 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:11
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
British ears Feb 12

In everyday use in the UK, I have ***never*** heard anyone refer to a small hand-held lamp as a "flashlight".
The term might officially exist. British folk may or may not understand what is meant. Even if they do understand correctly, it sounds odd. Because that's not how they speak.

If the client wants UK English, then the primary consideration should be that it sounds right to British ears, not to avoid misunderstanding amongst Americans.

To add: Sheila's link is rather good with the construction-site flashlight. To me, that is a totally different type of device than your regular small hand-held lamp.

[Edited at 2018-02-12 10:26 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Howdy = Hello Feb 12

According to your profile, your main working pair is ES-EN, but if you can translate from Finnish as well, then hats off to you!
As a native speaker of UK English, I can assure you that virtually everyone knows what a flashlight is. If I were translating for an international audience, I might use flashlight rather than "torch", as there are more speakers of US English around the world. I think it's more a question of who the target audience is than anything else. And the client may simply prefer UK English in general because they think it's somehow more elegant, more distinguished, less trumpety...icon_smile.gif

Anecdotally, this reminds me of the time I had to sort of interpret in a conversation between my then partner (Scottish, an English teacher) and an American from Wisconsin we were sharing a flat with. In general, everything was mutually intelligible, but from time to time I would have to chip in with the American version of a word I could see was causing puzzlement; flashlight was one and boot (trunk of a car in US) was another; I can't recall any more right now, but it was funny at the time...icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2018-02-12 10:56 GMT]

Edited for apostrophe fail. Must've been the Dragon... icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2018-02-12 11:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-02-12 11:36 GMT]


 

Jessie LN  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hmm Feb 12

This is an interesting question for me, as I have always spoken both US and British English.

If the requirement was to translate into UK English, I would have left the UK English term. I'm guessing that the vast majority of the intended audience/market are going to be more familiar with UK English, and that's why they chose that variant.

Surely an American could discern the meaning of the word through the context? Or, heaven forbid, learn a new word?icon_wink.gif


 

The Misha
Local time: 07:11
Russian to English
+ ...
You are right Feb 12

Chris S wrote:

Americans shouldn’t be translating into British English, period.


And we don't. The reverse is also true, even in the case of those who claim that "I have always spoken both US and British English".


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Shedding a little more light on the topic Feb 12

G. L. wrote:

The flashlight in question here is a UV flashlight, used to facilitate chemical reactions in the substances that it is trained on.


Now we have some context, it strikes me that neither torch nor flashlight seems very likely. Is it not a "lamp" of some kind?

But your point was supposed to be more general.

Scandi/Nordic customers frequently specify UK English. This is not normally because they actually need or want UK English. They just love to show off that they know there's a difference.

So why UK rather than US English? Tradition.

So, unless it is a brochure very specifically for the UK market, I would not hesitate to use more internationally accepted terms in a "British English" text. You just have to use common sense.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
English in the Nordics Feb 12

[quote]Chris S wrote:

G. L. wrote:

Scandi/Nordic customers frequently specify UK English. This is not normally because they actually need or want UK English. They just love to show off that they know there's a difference.

So why UK rather than US English? Tradition.


If it's a product intended for the EU market, UK English makes perfect sense. Other markets, such as the American market, could have different product regulations and therefore require slightly different documentation.

I don't know about the other Nordic countries, but it's my experience that Danes often use American rather than British terms, simply because the vast majority of entertainment is American, not British, so they pick up more American terms than British. Even my daughter has picked up many American terms and a lot of American pronunciation from American cartoons. Her other mother tongue is French, and I guess there is some French accent too, but when I first told her how the French usually speak English, she didn't really believe it until I found some examples on YouTube.

Something else to consider is that a few Britons get annoyed if they find American rather than British terms in a text written for the British market. If a British news article says "airplane" rather than "aeroplane", you can be almost certain that some reader will write a comment to complain. Such cantankerous readers are a minority, but the quality of a user manual can have an impact on the users' perception of the manufacturer.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:11
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Aeroplane, airplane, aircraft Feb 12

Airplane is the US English term, no question. But in UK English, aeroplane is not often used nowadays. Aircraft is the preferred word (unless it is something more specific, like airliner).

 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Aeroplane Feb 12

Jack Doughty wrote:

But in UK English, aeroplane is not often used nowadays.


Many Telegraph readers seem to have a different opinion, even though "airplane" doesn't really seem harmful. Probably such readers insist there is only one correct way to pronounce "scone".


 

G. L.
United States
Local time: 04:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Shedding a little more light on the topic Feb 12

Chris S wrote:

G. L. wrote:

The flashlight in question here is a UV flashlight, used to facilitate chemical reactions in the substances that it is trained on.


Now we have some context, it strikes me that neither torch nor flashlight seems very likely. Is it not a "lamp" of some kind?


Possibly, but the term used in the original language is one that (according to the most authoritative sources I've checked) refers specifically to a portable, battery-powered lamp, i.e. what we call a flashlight.

Tangential: working on this text, I was also reminded that I'm hesitant to use the word "lamp" as a catch-all term for light-emitting devices. For example, the lights that guide pedestrians at a crosswalk are "lights" for me, not "lamps" (except maybe in a technical context). But the word "light" can be a problem if you need to distinguish between the source of the light and the light itself (e.g., "the light should be at a distance of about 1 cm from the target").


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


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


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

Hesitancy to use regional US/UK terms

Advanced search







SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search