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translation technique
Thread poster: raingrass
raingrass
Local time: 17:23
Bulgarian to English
Aug 7, 2006

Hello! I am not a tranlsation professional and I will ask you to excuse me if my question sounds silly to you, but I need advice exactly from professional translators.

So my question is: what do you think of the following technique?

Instead of translating sentence by sentence I translate only the words first, in the order they are in the original sentence without taking any effort to do the grammar or even put them in the word order which is correct for the target language. Once I translate all the words in the whole text I take a break. Next I begin putting those words in the correct grammar and correct word order. This separation of processes helps me strain my mind less, concentrate better and do the whole thing with greater quality.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not much, but... Aug 7, 2006

I work the English-Spanish pair (both ways). I would never think of doing that, especially since the syntax is so different between the two languages; plus what we translate are ideas, not words.

I do a certain amount of "search and replace" when translating which helps a little, but so many times the words replaced are in the wrong spot so the gain is only modest.

I cannot comprehend how you could possibly be able to understand the results from your process.

Try translating without using this process of yours and see what results you get, then compare; that's all I can say.


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:23
English to French
+ ...
a computer can do that Aug 7, 2006

This is roughly what automatic translation does... and we know the result;-)

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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 11:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
We've seen this technique in action ... Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:

(...) I translate only the words first, in the order they are in the original sentence without taking any effort to do the grammar or even put them in the word order which is correct for the target language.


Isn't that what Babelfish does?

And, alas, some answerers on Kudoz, too...

Of course, Babelfish doesn't bother to process the next steps:

(...) I take a break. Next I begin putting those words in the correct grammar and correct word order.


so that might - I stress *might* - give drabsv's approach a very slight edge...

This separation of processes helps me strain my mind less, concentrate better ...


This doesn't apply to Babelfish, of course, since it has no mind to de-stress (no comment here re those Kudoz answerers referred to earlier - we must protect the innocent.)

... and do the whole thing with greater quality.


No doubt. Start with zero quality, multiply that by 1, 10, 100, anything you like: you'll end up with zero quality.

MediaMatrix

[Edited at 2006-08-07 17:24]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:23
German to English
This is what machine translation does Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:
Instead of translating sentence by sentence I translate only the words first, in the order they are in the original sentence without taking any effort to do the grammar or even put them in the word order which is correct for the target language.


Professional translators work with more than words: they translate concepts as well. This may mean that the sentence structure will differ greatly from the original text, and the entire vocabulary may differ from "dictionary" definitions, depending upon the register of the text. Sometimes a single sentence may be translated as two sentences, or two sentences may be combined into one. During the course of revision, sentence structure may be changed, and the translator may even come up with more effective ways of expressing concepts contained in the text.

What you propose is not a very inefficient approach. I would suggest that you not use it, even when translating for fun. It's very easy to develop bad habits and very difficult to break them.


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raingrass
Local time: 17:23
Bulgarian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Aug 7, 2006

Henry Hinds wrote:

I work the English-Spanish pair (both ways). I would never think of doing that, especially since the syntax is so different between the two languages; plus what we translate are ideas, not words.

I do a certain amount of "search and replace" when translating which helps a little, but so many times the words replaced are in the wrong spot so the gain is only modest.

I cannot comprehend how you could possibly be able to understand the results from your process.

Try translating without using this process of yours and see what results you get, then compare; that's all I can say.


I do work on the syntax - the point is that I am separating the process of getting the words' meanings from the process of re-constructing the sentence into the target language. First I produce a pile of words in the target language and next I am building that pile into a sentence in a word order proper for the target language. My reasoning behind all this is that the more the syntax is different between the two languages the more it is necessary to separate the process of working on the syntax, in order to be able to concentrate on it alone.


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Anna Strowe
Local time: 10:23
Italian to English
Can't separate syntax and word meaning Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:

I do work on the syntax - the point is that I am separating the process of getting the words' meanings from the process of re-constructing the sentence into the target language. First I produce a pile of words in the target language and next I am building that pile into a sentence in a word order proper for the target language. My reasoning behind all this is that the more the syntax is different between the two languages the more it is necessary to separate the process of working on the syntax, in order to be able to concentrate on it alone.


But you can't separate the meaning of a sentence from the syntax. You can separate individual words (which is what dictionaries and Babelfish do), but if you just have a pile of words, it doesn't mean anything. The extreme example would be taking all of the words from a text and mixing them all up. You probably wouldn't be able to recreate the text. While it is a little easier at sentence level, it's still not particularly reliable or efficient.

I translate Italian to English. A really simple example would be looking at the word "anche" which means also or too. Depending on where that word is in the sentence, it modifies different things. And the rules for placement are slightly different in Italian and English, and depending on what it modifies, it could be either "also" or "too". So: if I translate word for word without respect to syntax, first of all, I would have trouble deciding which word to use as the translation. Second, once I had the English, I might decide that the word was supposed to modify a different idea than in the original, because the placement 'means' something different in English.

Anna


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raingrass
Local time: 17:23
Bulgarian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Re to all posts above Aug 7, 2006

I would like to retell my idea for what I am talking about is not word for word translation.

Sometimes translating words and thinking how to re-construct the word order of the sentences so that they sound "native" to the target language can be very strenuous - the greater difference of syntax between the two laguages the more "RAM" it takes to the mind to think simultaneously on word meaning, overall text context, re-arranging word order and style.

My technique is about doing some of those processes separately. The concrete processes I am suggesting to do separately are word translation and word order.

Of course, after the initial piling up of word translations, in the process of re-arranging their order and changing them in different tenses, conjugations, etc, one will see that in the syntax he just constructed other word translations will fit better. Yet, again, this is an easier process - one of finding synonyms to already translated words not of translating words from the beginning.


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:23
English to Polish
+ ...
I see you and raise you... Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:
So my question is: what do you think of the following technique?


Bulgarian and Polish are both slavic languages, so the "transformation" process would be similar.

Take the quoted phrase above and apply your process.

What do you do with the word "do" in that phrase (just by way of an example)?
What do you do with declinations? Do you translate verbs (e.g. "think") in the infinitive or not?
etc. etc. etc.

Show me a translator without a deadline and I'll show you a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Unless you have the grand luxury of not having a client breathing down your back, the process you describe (as I see it) is too time consuming to be of practical use.

If the break you talk about is too long, you run the risk of forgetting what that littlle pile of words between the full stops means, don't you?


Pawel Skalinski

[Edited at 2006-08-07 18:49]


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Carlos Ruestes  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
What an example!!! Aug 7, 2006

Anna Strowe wrote:
A really simple example would be looking at the word "anche" which means also or too. Depending on where that word is in the sentence, it modifies different things. And the rules for placement are slightly different in Italian and English, and depending on what it modifies, it could be either "also" or "too". So: if I translate word for word without respect to syntax, first of all, I would have trouble deciding which word to use as the translation. Second, once I had the English, I might decide that the word was supposed to modify a different idea than in the original, because the placement 'means' something different in English.

Anna


Two thumbs up for your reply and example!! I can´t agree more.


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Refugio
Local time: 07:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Juggling will not help Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:

This separation of processes helps me strain my mind less, concentrate better and do the whole thing with greater quality.


It may strain your mind less, but it will certainly not produce better quality! You say you are not a professional. Are you a volunteer translator? Any translation worth doing at all is worth doing well. You must translate for meaning, not word for word, even if you juggle the words at the end.


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raingrass
Local time: 17:23
Bulgarian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Aug 7, 2006

Ruth Henderson wrote:

drabsv wrote:

This separation of processes helps me strain my mind less, concentrate better and do the whole thing with greater quality.


It may strain your mind less, but it will certainly not produce better quality! You say you are not a professional. Are you a volunteer translator? Any translation worth doing at all is worth doing well. You must translate for meaning, not word for word, even if you juggle the words at the end.


"I would like to retell my idea for what I am talking about is not word for word translation.

Sometimes translating words and thinking how to re-construct the word order of the sentences so that they sound "native" to the target language can be very strenuous - the greater difference of syntax between the two laguages the more "RAM" it takes to the mind to think simultaneously on word meaning, overall text context, re-arranging word order and style.

My technique is about doing some of those processes separately. The concrete processes I am suggesting to do separately are word translation and word order.

Of course, after the initial piling up of word translations, in the process of re-arranging their order and changing them in different tenses, conjugations, etc, one will see that in the syntax he just constructed other word translations will fit better. Yet, again, this is an easier process - one of finding synonyms to already translated words not of translating words from the beginning."


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
I know this technique Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:

My technique is about doing some of those processes separately. The concrete processes I am suggesting to do separately are word translation and word order.



Hi,

I think the technique you describe is what students do on a very early stage of studying the language. Checking the words in a dictionary first, then trying to link them together, often consulting grammar books. However, once you advance in your studies, the process of getting the words' meanings and the process of re-constructing the sentence into the target language comes automatically and naturally together and this perhaps constitutes the difference between a language learner and a translator. Your proposed technique seems to me as going backwards rather then improving skills.

Magda

[Edited at 2006-08-07 20:05]


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:23
English to French
+ ...
Too early for translation... Start with reading books Aug 7, 2006

If translation is so painful for you, maybe you're not ready for it. I would suggest that you read some books (or other texts) in the source language, starting with something easy enough for you. Of course, you must search for the words that you don't know. But don't try to rebuild sentences in the target language! When you are able to grab the meaning of texts without translating, then you will be ready for translation.

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eva75
English
+ ...
Text type important Aug 7, 2006

drabsv wrote:

Hello! I am not a tranlsation professional and I will ask you to excuse me if my question sounds silly to you, but I need advice exactly from professional translators.

So my question is: what do you think of the following technique?

Instead of translating sentence by sentence I translate only the words first, in the order they are in the original sentence without taking any effort to do the grammar or even put them in the word order which is correct for the target language. Once I translate all the words in the whole text I take a break. Next I begin putting those words in the correct grammar and correct word order. This separation of processes helps me strain my mind less, concentrate better and do the whole thing with greater quality.


One important thing that none of the posters have asked as yet, is what kind of texts are you translating?

If it is a legal or engineering text then words or more exactly terminology is more important, then perhaps translating literally on first draft is ok, but not desirable either. Is that what you mean by words, the terminology?

If you are translating more journalistic style, literary or indeed economic or financial texts then this method will not work as it is first necessary to summarise the meaning of the WHOLE text, not just the words or indeed the sentences. Of course, this is important with any text to be translated, but less so with more technical texts, such as user manuals.

Good luck!

Tip: Read as much as you can in your source and target languages, but most importantly have good common sense!


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