Strategies for dealing with quotes in translation?
Thread poster: Michele Johnson

Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:40
German to English
+ ...
Mar 20, 2003

My question is somewhat related to the discussion of whether and how to translate bibliographies, titles of articles, etc.



How do you deal with quotes in text? In my concrete case, the original text contains quotes from several German sources (i.e. books). My approach is to translate the quote into English, thus providing a sort of provisional text, and leave original titles in the bibliography, in case someone really wants to track down the original.



But is it really justified to maintain this as a direct quote then? I recently worked with one author who requested that I transform the quotes into indirect quotes, i.e. instead of



Smith says, \"It was raining cats and dogs.\"



-> Smith says it was raining cats and dogs.



Actually, this worked quite well with her text.



What do you think of this approach? Can keeping the quotation marks in really be justified, if little ol\' me does the translating?



And what about the case when there *is* an official target language translation? Should I go and track it down, and use the \"official\" translation? How zealous should one be here? I ask because one of the references *has* been translated into English, but is out of print



All comments most welcome.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
Quotes and such Mar 20, 2003

You wrote:

And what about the case when there *is* an official target language translation? Should I go and track it down, and use the \"official\" translation? How zealous should one be here? I ask because one of the references *has* been translated into English, but is out of print.



Yes, I track down official translations if possible. If it is not possible, I leave the original between quotes and give an approximation in brackets. Works for me!


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Lucy Phillips  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
official translation if possible Mar 20, 2003

I regularly translate for an academic journal and deal with texts that include an enormous quantity of quotes.



Their strategy used to be to have the original in the original language in quotes, followed by my translation in brackets. This is good for a specialized audience, many of whom are probably capable of understanding the original quote. The translation enabled a wider readership to understand the text. More recently, only the translation has been included (perhaps to save space!). The bibliography is always in the original language, so readers can find the original quote.



When possible, I look for an official translation and use this (sourcing the translation, obviously).



The difficulties arise when you are translating a text which quotes a translation from a different language (i.e. a Spanish text which quotes a German author in Spanish!). In this case, again I would try to find the official English translation if one exists, and use the publication it came from in the bibliography... however this isn\'t always possible for many reasons (time, obscurity etc). So I have done translations of these too.



I think it\'s okay to use your translation as a direct quote, but as you say, it\'s probably up to the person you are translating for.



hope this helps.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
You are correct... Mar 20, 2003

...in that, by translating a quote is no longer a quote, hence it should be rendered as indirect speeach.



As to your second Q:



And what about the case when there *is* an official target language translation? Should I go and track it down, and use the \"official\" translation? How zealous should one be here? I ask because one of the references *has* been translated into English, but is out of print.



Theoretically yes, but I recently argued with a lecturer that it is hardly logical or reasonable for the translator to be expected to do this research when the original author has far more facilities, material and contacts in the field, particularly if/when the translator gets NO credit for the translation and/or gets paid peanuts.



I recently did a feminsit thesis for someone and asked them to obtain the original text where possible, and where not we reorganised the text a little.



So maybe talk to the author............


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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:40
Member (2002)
German to English
Would you edit the bibliography? Mar 20, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-03-20 17:58, Marijke wrote:



Yes, I track down official translations if possible. If it is not possible, I leave the original between quotes and give an approximation in brackets. Works for me!





If you used an extract from an official translation rather than the original quote provided, would you take responsibility for providing new bibliographic references as well?



I was recently asked to do this, and declined because I thought it went too far beyond the job of translator.

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