web site translation: do I translate proper nouns like Universities, Ministries
Thread poster: Sherryd

May 1, 2007

I don't know if this question has been asked already, but I'd like to know what is usually done. I'm translating a web site for a company which has done a lot of projects together with government bodies, universities. I usually never translate proper nouns but I don't know about the website. It seems so redundant in a long list of projects repeating over and over the same things. Mu doubts regard: universities and university departments, Ministries. thanks every one for the clarifications.


Helene Martin-Hernandez  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
English to French
+ ...
Ask your client May 1, 2007

Hello Sherryd,
I think you should ask your client what they would prefer, although it is usually better not to translate, except maybe if they are famous institutions. That's the best way to get it right.
Good luck!


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 00:56
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Put yourself in the viewer's position May 1, 2007

If you put yourself in the position of the person viewing this website, what would it all mean if you don't understand half of it? I translate a lot of diplomas and I always translate proper names like "University of XXX" or "Ministry of Education" or the "Professional Education Act of 1989" and such.


Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
Definitely maybe May 1, 2007

In my case and my language combination - "The Charles university" would always be "Karlova universita", "Comenius university" = "Univerzita J.A.Komenskeho" and "Ministry of education" = "Ministerstvo skolstva". Talk to your client/agency if they prefer otherwise or translate it and you won't go wrong.IMHO


Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
German to English
+ ...
Check it on the Internet and keep yourself covered May 1, 2007

Helene Martin-Hernandez wrote:

Hello Sherryd,
I think you should ask your client what they would prefer, although it is usually better not to translate, except maybe if they are famous institutions. Hélène

Or sometimes the other way round? Examples: spot the difference.



If it's going to be published, then it's best that all are happy. It's better to ask clients questions up front rather than having to answer their questions afterwards.


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:56
English to French
+ ...
My rule of thumb May 2, 2007

If the proper noun (unless it's a person's name) has an official translation in the target language, translate it to that. If it has no official translation, then don't translate it, but put a free translation next to it between brackets. To find out if there is an official translation, it usually suffices to type a search string like this in Google: "ministry of finance" + ministère. Chances are that the first results that will come up have something to do with the organization whose name you are trying to translate (that is, these sources will be reliable).

I translate to French, and usually, names of universities are translated even if they don't have official translations. For example, UCLA would become Université de Californie à Los Angeles.

In any case, try to find references to the proper noun in documents of the target language. The best resource for this is usually press releases. If you don't find anything, it is pretty much safe to assume that there is no official translation - you make one up and put it between brackets next to the original proper noun.

All the best!

[Edited at 2007-05-02 18:40]


Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 01:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another suggestion May 6, 2007

Some years ago, a translator told me that if there is no official translation for the name, the first time the name appaers in the document, he writes the name in the target language immediately followed by the name in the source language in brackets, for example, University of Costa Rica (Universidad de Costa Rica). Then he continues using the translation.

In some cases, I write the name in the target language and in a foot note I give the original name.

Good luck!


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web site translation: do I translate proper nouns like Universities, Ministries

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