Interpretation vs translation
Thread poster: gulperi
gulperi
France
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
Jan 22, 2008

Dear all,

I came with a translation problem while revizing an ENG-FR translation, may I explain it as follow :

The sentence "However, they do not affect liver cells" has been translated as "Cependant, ils n'ont pas d'effet cytopathogène" by the initial translator.

I attempted this translation "Cependant, ils n'affectent pas les hépatocytes" (hépatocytes is the term that the client want me to use for liver cell) and I've checked their italian version which was translated the same way as my version.

Now, I've received a comment where my client thinks that "Cependant, ils n'ont pas d'effet cytopathogène" is the sentence to use.

For me, his choice is more interpretation than translation, this is not what is written in the original text because as far as I know "effet cytopathogène = cytophathic effect". What do you think? Any help would be appreciated.

(Please note that I will indeed follow the guidelines of my client but I just wanted to know what you think about this notion of interpretation vs translation)

Thanks for you help.


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Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
I agree with you Jan 22, 2008

Dear Gülperi,

Well, translation is a kind of interpretation. Yet, from the small context you provide, I have thrown a small peek into the meaning of these "bio" words.
hepatocyte means "cell that makes up liver tissue or simply liver cell"
only cyto is more general: all types of cells (naturally includes liver cells as well)

For this reason, I would 100 % agree with your suggestion "Cependant, ils n'affectent pas les hépatocytes". No mistake in it, yet as you also suggest "the client is king"

Lovely regards,

Binnur


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:00
English to French
+ ...
I feel your client goes where he has no business Jan 22, 2008

Your client seems to be looking for an elegant way to say something - but this is a highly technical text I myself would never dare to try to translate. Your text is not about elegance - and your client seems to not understand that. Your client also seems to be trying to control too much of your work. If you are the editor, I don't see why he actually edits your editing work (I hope you realize that is what your client is up to). I wouldn't be surprised if your client told you one day to leave it alone because he knows better than you how to translate/edit the text...

In your particular example, I do see a problem. It simply goes against the very meaning of translation, which is basically to communicate ideas in different languages. The example you give of your colleague's translation does not communicate the same idea as the source sentence. Although in certain cases, these source and target ideas can be interchangeable, the target sentence does not at all mean the same thing as the source segment and such an approach could mislead the reader. If this "theory" was applied to the entire text - chances are that lots of stuff would be lost in translation. Some doctors would have a lot of trouble indeed learning anything from it...

My overall opinion on this is that the client seems to pretend that he can translate. This is very dangerous, especially since you are asked to translate things "his way", which is obviously the wrong way. If the end client or the end user is not happy with the end result, you will be held accountable. I don't think your client will be willing to admit that he is the one who dictated to the translator how to do her job - chances are he will prefer to not pay you, on the grounds that "your" translation/editing was bad.

Personally, with my limited knowledge of medical subjects, this is how I would have translated the sentence (in light of your explanation of the meaning):

Cependant, ils n'ont pas d'effet sur les hépatocytes.

All the best!

P.S.: I find that your colleague's translation sounds a bit like s/he is trying to prove that s/he knows lots of very complicated medical terms, as if s/he was trying to convince your client that s/he is a very competent translator. I might be wrong, but in any case, the sentence sounds a bit too classy to me... Besides, not having a cytopathogenic effect doesn't necessarily mean that they don't affect the liver cells, whereas what was meant originally was categoric: they don't affect the liver cells. It just doesn't add up...


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Alain Chouraki  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
Chacun son métier... et les vaches seront bien traduites Jan 22, 2008

I am not in cytology but from what I understand, it seems like a matter of organizing the production line rather than plain translation...

The question to ask is:
1. Did the translation translated well? Is it correct from a semantic viewpoint? Precise concept, faithful to the source text. Proper target language expression, not literal, and acceptable per this language uses and habits, in this technical branch.
You google your translation and you see how many times this expression is used on official, big company, people of the trade sites, etc.

And if the answer is : yes", well fine, this is good translation. Then, we are not dealing with translation anymore but editing, copy writing, style or hair-splitting...

Now, if the customers want to edit, copy write, or even make poetry or a song with your translation, why not... after all, this is their message, their text, their company.
But in no case it should be blamed on the translator as bad translation.

People of the trade have their own definitions, patter, customs. Through work experience, those words tend to be "coloured" with specific ideas, concepts, that might or might not be justified... and are even faulty, sometimes. I have seen some workers use a word that was just plain mistranslation per any dictionary and glossary you could find under the sun, moon or stars. And you wouldn't have made them change their mind under any circumstance.
"This is the way we say here, you know. And we always said so, and the father of my father said it, and his father before him used to say it..."
Now, if a customer wants a specific professional patter to be used that is outside of the usual technical or academic field generally recognized as correct, he could provide a style log in the first place. (They never do, by the way, they want you to find the secret language they use down in their offices through telepathy...)

But it's better not to argue with client. Don't make them wrong, say politely:
"Ah yes, that's right, one can say it this way too... I used such and such reference (you give them your sources, like a single information), but I guess yours is very good too. Well, by the way, I translated, and it seems you wanted it edited, proofread or copy written... Do you want me to copy write after translation (in this case, this will be more expansive) or am I just supposed to translate?

And then, the client will start to realize he's just asking for another paid service, and conclude you did your job...


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gulperi
France
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes indeed Jan 22, 2008

Alfr wrote:

I am not in cytology but from what I understand, it seems like a matter of organizing the production line rather than plain translation...

The question to ask is:
1. Did the translation translated well? Is it correct from a semantic viewpoint? Precise concept, faithful to the source text. Proper target language expression, not literal, and acceptable per this language uses and habits, in this technical branch.
You google your translation and you see how many times this expression is used on official, big company, people of the trade sites, etc.

And if the answer is : yes", well fine, this is good translation. Then, we are not dealing with translation anymore but editing, copy writing, style or hair-splitting...

Now, if the customers want to edit, copy write, or even make poetry or a song with your translation, why not... after all, this is their message, their text, their company.
But in no case it should be blamed on the translator as bad translation.

People of the trade have their own definitions, patter, customs. Through work experience, those words tend to be "coloured" with specific ideas, concepts, that might or might not be justified... and are even faulty, sometimes. I have seen some workers use a word that was just plain mistranslation per any dictionary and glossary you could find under the sun, moon or stars. And you wouldn't have made them change their mind under any circumstance.
"This is the way we say here, you know. And we always said so, and the father of my father said it, and his father before him used to say it..."
Now, if a customer wants a specific professional patter to be used that is outside of the usual technical or academic field generally recognized as correct, he could provide a style log in the first place. (They never do, by the way, they want you to find the secret language they use down in their offices through telepathy...)

But it's better not to argue with client. Don't make them wrong, say politely:
"Ah yes, that's right, one can say it this way too... I used such and such reference (you give them your sources, like a single information), but I guess yours is very good too. Well, by the way, I translated, and it seems you wanted it edited, proofread or copy written... Do you want me to copy write after translation (in this case, this will be more expansive) or am I just supposed to translate?

And then, the client will start to realize he's just asking for another paid service, and conclude you did your job...




Hi,

First of all

Thanks for that, I do agree with all your comments.

I am working with the end client so I I will use the terms he wants me to use, this is not a problem.

But as you pointed out, I feel like I am providing an additional service here!

Well thank you all for you comments!


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:00
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Does responsibility extend beyond that owed to the client? Jan 22, 2008

Somebody seems to have carried out some scientific research which, if the Client's translation stands, is being misrepresented in the English version. Though your contractual relationship is with the Client and not with the researcher, nonetheless, I think that you should put your misgivings in writing out of respect for the researcher involved. It would also protect your position if the translated work was later criticised as internally inconsistent or misleading.

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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Some thoughts Jan 22, 2008

I fully agree with you that there is a difference between "Cependant, ils n'ont pas d'effet cytopathogène" and "However, they do not affect liver cells." After all, some substances affect liver cells without causing pathogenic changes in them. (I don't know whether this substance fits in that category.) There are, for example, substances that are beneficial to liver cells.

It seems that the other sentence was chosen because it "sounds nice". Does he want it to sound like some other article? Does he expect you to change it to match that? You can then point out that your services as English editor to rewrite the text aren't free (unless they are).


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xxxblomguib  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
English to Flemish
+ ...
Entirely agree Jan 26, 2008

After all the previous contributions, mine is a bit superfluous, but I want to write it down anyway, because I regularly run into the same kind of problem.

I am first of all an engineer/scientist and secondly a linguist, and as such I translate a lot of technical and/or scientific material. Needless to say that my colleague engineers/scientists do not always know how to write down a decent sentence.

When I am translating, my first idea is to render the source as truthfully as possible. If that means that one has to write a strange sentence in the target language in order to represent a sentence that was strange to begin with, then so be it. The problem is that one quickly gets "accused" of having carried out a "poor translation", when all the time it is the original that is "poor".

Your case, however, is not even that. The two options you mentioned (yours and the so-called correction) express different things. I admit that the difference is small, but for a specialist in the field, it can (and probably will) be significant!

The job of a translator is to translate, not to rewrite or to enhance or embellish. That is a different job, equally valid, but different nevertheless.

I would say that your instinct and your know-how made you translate that sentence correctly.


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