Should the names of universities be translated?
Thread poster: Joanne Parker

Joanne Parker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:36
Member (2002)
German to English
Oct 4, 2002

Thanks to Alexander for starting this off. I am working on a text that refers to universities and the subjects that were studied there.


Is it best to leave the university name as it is (Universität Mannheim), or to translate its name (Mannheim University/University of Mannheim)?


What about the subjects - am I right in thinking that one should leave the original term and provide an explanation in parentheses?


Many thanks for your thoughts,


Joanne


 

Alan Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:36
German to English
Why not? Oct 4, 2002

I don\'t see any problems in \"anglifying\" the names of universities or in translating the subjects studied. The tricky bit is getting the qualifications across (esp. the German \"Diplom\".

 

Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:36
German to English
+ ...
Keep original names of universities Oct 4, 2002

I was told by an immigration lawyer that this makes it easier for the evaluators to identify the institution. You can put a translation in parens underneath the foreign name, unless the original is obvious, such as in your example.


Translate the subjects. It would be way too cumbersome to keep the original AND put a translation next to it.


My two cents\' worth.


Trudy


 

Eva Gustavsson  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:36
English to Swedish
+ ...
The opinion of the university is important Oct 4, 2002

I had the same problem last week. I knew than many Swedish institutions have official names in English as well as in Swedish and some of them even have defined translations of their names into German or French. So I called the university whose name I was wondering about and asked them. Well, the answer was that it might be OK to translate the name into English but it should preferably be given in Swedish, especially when translating into other languages than English.
[addsig]


 

Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:36
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with EvaG Oct 5, 2002

For instance, the \'Universidad del País Vasco\' in Spain, translates its name at least into French and English, and sometimes leaves the original - or more frequently the acronym of the original name- in brackets : University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). You might find out through their websites etc. how they handle this issue ...

 

bochkor
Local time: 22:36
English to German
+ ...
Translate or both, but never leave as is! Oct 6, 2002

Another rule to go by would be to ask what a newspaper would do to clarify it to their readers. They usually do translate it into English. So if it\'s fine for the New York Times, why should I worry about Immigration?


Of course, if you want to appease both sides, then provide the original in brackets. This way your word count goes up a bit, too, if that project happens to be per target word. You just have to type it. I know, not by much, but it\'s okay with me.


However, leaving it in the source language in the midst of an English text (without any explanation whatsoever) is unprofessional in my opinion, even if they can figure out \"university\" from \"Universität\". Just remember the Spanish example of \"embarazada\" and \"embarrassed\"! What a big difference and figuring it out won\'t help, so why should we force them to? Our job is to translate, not to make them guess. That\'s why I think it would be unprofessional.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-06 10:55 ]


 

Nils Vanbellingen  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:36
German to Dutch
+ ...
No clear answer? Oct 23, 2002

Hmmz...so I guess there\'s no clear answer to this question, since some of you advise to leave the names in the source language, while others would rather translate these names...well, it was to be expected I guess...

 

Kay Fisher
German to English
+ ...
it depends Nov 6, 2002

on the context of the article you are translating.


(sorry if you gave it and I missed it - I can\'t remember seeing it).


If this is a journalistic text then translating would usually be fine (as said the person who replied mentioning the New York Times).


If this is an official or semi-official text then some version of translation + original title would be a good idea.


I also agree with the posters who mentioned phoning the university or checking their website to find out if the university has an \"official\" english name.


Degree titles are difficult, especially in an official context where equivalency (sp??) is an issue e.g. Dipl.Ing vs. M.Eng/B.Eng or Mag. vs. BA/MA. Again the choice depends on the context of your translation. If this a translation for a European audience (EU) then there are, I think, somewhere, EU guidlines.


Can someone in Brussels/other EU institution help??


My €0,02


Kay


 

xxxsmgaines
German to English
+ ...
Institution names and similar problems Sep 30, 2009

I am working in a German academic environment. University names are usually pretty straightforward, but the names of research institutes, government programs, prizes, etc. are problematic. These usually (hopefully) convey some sense of the actual subject or purpose of the organization, so translating them would seem to be a good idea. The problem I run up against is that there are often many different English versions already in use and the translation given by the organization itself is often so off-target that no non-German speaker would understand it. For example, the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, translates its name as "German Rectors' Conference," though this is actually an association (not a conference, which implies a one-shot meeting) of university and other tertiary institute presidents.

I am loathe to use such ineptly translated names, partly because they are no more comprehensible than the original foreign language name; and because they perpetuate what has become the rampant misuse of English in European academic circles; and because they cause internal problems in a text (in my example I had called the university "Rektor" the university president, in keeping with the American style English translation.) At the moment, I am having to comprimise on every such name, using what is already in circulation if it makes some sense, using my own translation when nothing else exists, and using my own translation with the original German name in parentheses when the official translation is nonsensical. This is time-consuming and unsatisfactory. I like the idea of consistently using the original name in German with an explanatory translation in parentheses as someone above suggested. But this is just too cumbersome in some of these documents. The CORDIS EU Member State Service does this (http://cordis.europa.eu/germany/education.htm) but it makes some of their already tedious and awkward documents almost impossible to read!
If anyone has any other suggestions, official rules of thumb, etc. about how to handle such issues I'd be happy to see them!


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Visit the university web Sep 30, 2009

I think the answer is quite simple - visit the university web and see how they describe themselves on their foreign language web pages. In my experience, some universities have translated names and others don't.

 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
My rule of thumb Sep 30, 2009

If it is a public uni then the name is translated just like any ministry or public body, if it is private however you leave it in the original.

There are exceptions though. In Madrid, international private business schools that offer courses in English may already have an official name in English.

[Editado a las 2009-10-01 09:10 GMT]

Also is it is a place you should use the "of structure" - University of Manchester, if it is a name then you put it before - Thames Valley University.


[Editado a las 2009-10-01 13:50 GMT]


 

AlisaIWW
United States
Russian to English
+ ...
"So if it's fine for the New York Times, why should I worry about Immigration?" Oct 3, 2009

Because this may be a translation of a document for immigration purposes? As someone else here has pointed out: context is everything in language in general, and in translation in particular.

Regarding checking with unis' websites: hopefully should work OK with unis, operating under the presumption that they of all organizations would hire competent translators for their websites. But one should be very cautious with organizations (governmental absolutely included) who maintain foreign-languages pages on their websites: I've seen some ridiculously bad translations done on some of those, including the names of said organizations. So I would check out the website as a whole: if it is properly and professionally translated, then it would also be safe to use the name they chose on the foreign-language page, if not...Phoning can help, try to contact their PR dept. or something similar.

Other than that and some other obvious and common caveats, the default position should always be making things as clear as possible for the end reader.

Just my $0.02:-)


 

S.Lauretta  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:36
English to French
+ ...
Interesting link Nov 21, 2017

I know this is an old thread, but someone might find this interesting: http://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tpv2guides/guides/wrtps/index-eng.html?lang=eng&lettr=indx_catlog_n&page=9ghhbgc5Dh6E.html#anch1

 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Skopos theory to the rescue Nov 22, 2017

According to the skopos theory (which I like to call simply the “theory of objectives”), the translator needs a brief for his translation project, which includes the purpose or objetive of the text. Who is going to read the text?

In this particular case, names of universities may be left untranslated, may stay in their original language with a parenthetical translation, or go straight to the target language's best equivalent, depending on what objective the text will have: Is it part of a paper or academic research? Is it simply informative, as in a journalistic or blog piece? It depends, right?

Likewise, the names of subjects being taught may have in most cases to be translated. But, what if the translation is a diploma or a transcript for the sole user of the recipient? The situation and objective change if the translation goes to an academic review panel or some educational institution.

On this last topic, translating transcripts means that some subjects may have equivalents in other educational systems, like Math or Psychology, but there are other subjects that are very idiosyncratic. The solution or, rather, my proposed solution? Do an informational (i.e. more literal) translation, without trying to be “creative” with the subject's name. Otherwise, one risks injecting one's particular worldview into the translation.

The good thing of getting a hold of a translation theory is that it does have real-world applications and is not the exclusive province of much-derided academics in Translation Studies.


 


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