Handbook on standard translation rules
Thread poster: CarolMasip

CarolMasip
France
Local time: 12:42
French to English
Aug 15

Could anyone recommend a short, easy-to-read handbook/guide that covers standard translation rules, please?
I recently wanted to check how to handle references to educational institutions and qualifications and whilst I did find some information here, the opinions or methods advised were conflicting.
I'd like to find a series of guidelines published by an authoritative body or person?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No easy shortcuts Aug 15

CarolMasip wrote:
Could anyone recommend a short, easy-to-read handbook/guide that covers standard translation rules [i.e. "how to handle references to educational institutions and qualifications"]? ... I'd like to find a series of guidelines published by an authoritative body or person.


As the translator it is your task to figure out what the client's requirements or likely needs are. Different clients will have different needs and requirements. The client may not know what their own requirements are, but it is your job to find out what they are.

For example, if the client's file is a diploma that will be used by a university for admission purposes, then you must find out what that university's preferences are. Different universities will have different preferences. A style guide was published by an authoritative body will have no meaning if the client's end-requirement is different from what that authoritative body believed was best.

In cases where you are unable to figure out what the preferred or required style guide is, you have to use common sense, and different people have different common sense. One big problem for translators is that language style guides are often not written for translators but for editors, so they often fail to specify how to deal with non-local content.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:42
German to English
Target language style guides Aug 15

I'm not aware of any standard rules for translations. You might want to look into writer's guides for the target language. You will find that there is often no uniform approach to handling bibliographies, capitalization, names of institutions. In US English, many writers rely on the Chicago Manual of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook, the New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage, among others. Specific organizations, such as the American Psychological Society also have style manuals. Microsoft also has a style guide that is frequently used.

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CarolMasip
France
Local time: 12:42
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Advice Aug 15

Thank you for your advice. I obviously appreciate that context and purpose need to be taken into account. Just wanted to try and find reference to 'general' practice.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:42
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Search, search, search Aug 15

The first thing you will find, if you haven't already, is the European Equivalency Framework (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Qualifications_Framework). Taking that as a starting point you can then look at the institutions themselves, what programs they have and what degrees or certificates they issue. Often you may need to compare institutions in both countries. You search and you search some more and then you do the best you can. Always give the description in the source language first and add what you think the equivalent is in brackets or, if you're fairly certain about the equivalent, you can do it the other way around.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:42
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
If only a single set of rules were available Aug 15

Samuel Murray wrote:
For example, if the client's file is a diploma that will be used by a university for admission purposes, then you must find out what that university's preferences are. Different universities will have different preferences.

Then again, it's quite unlikely that you'd use the same translation on the person's CV, where the main requirement is for an easily understandable target-language text. Of course the CV has to convey accurate information but it may be better to translate some things that don't have an official translation and so would be handled differently in the diploma itself.

This is why you'll find conflicting opinions and advice. You have to combine any rules with a good dose of common sense, and we all have slightly different ideas of what's sensible.


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michelelemieux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:42
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
US Standards Aug 16

Hi Carol,

If you are translating into American English, you may find Simon & Schuster's Handbook for Writers especially useful. It combines standard American English rules, MLA (Modern Language Association, APA (Amerian Psychological Association - widely used in social sciences), CM (University of Chicago Press), CSE (Council of Science Editors), COS (Columbia Online Style). There is a special section for multilingual students, one on using sources and quotations, and one on plagiarism. It has been invaluable to me.

Michèle


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CarolMasip
France
Local time: 12:42
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Style Manuals Aug 16

Many thanks for all references supplied - will now look at each of these in turn.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:42
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Needs to be up to date Aug 16

michelelemieux wrote:
If you are translating into American English, you may find Simon & Schuster's Handbook for Writers especially useful.

The problem is always going to be that books like this so quickly get out-dated. Even the 11th edition was published in early 2016. I'm pretty sure that most style guides have undergone changes since then, or will soon.

But that doesn't always matter if it's just used as a reference base.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 05:42
German to English
+ ...
in regards to educational qualifications Aug 18

I was a bit bothered to read things along the lines of consulting books and sites for equivalencies. I do a lot of translations in this area. Generally speaking, often there are no direct equivalencies. The rule of thumb is to keep the qualification "as is" and write a footnote or note of some kind to help whoever will be studying the document. As someone stated, you must know the country of origin, and the destination country - this will help you formulate your explanation in a way that is understood.
Making it harder is that educational systems change, so when a degree etc. was earned is also important. There have been some changes in Europe since the EU was established, with an attempt at standardizing - sometimes competing with or aligning with the US can create changes. Often enough you need to research individual cases.


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 12:42
English to German
Titles vary, people don't Aug 19

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

Making it harder is that educational systems change, so when a degree etc. was earned is also important.

My German engineering degree is a good example.

In the Sixties an engineer could be an "Ing." (School of Engineering) or a "Dipl.-Ing" (University). Colloquially the latter called the former "narrow gauge engineers".

Later on, the Ings got the right to rename themselves "Dipl.-Ing. (FH)", so their title became identical to the title of graduates of a University of Applied Science (a "new" type of school). Some time later they were allowed to omit the "FH".

That's why many university graduates started to write "Dipl.-Ing. (TU)" on their business cards, because they wanted to distinguish themselves from the "narrow gauge" people.

Today the two types are called Bachelor and Master. These are definite names, until it occurs to the cultural and educational policy to create a Bachelor Longstocking or the like.


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Handbook on standard translation rules

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