Translating into the non-native language

If a German colleague of yours had a website advertising translations into English, and that colleague used an incorrect word as a big heading, what would you do? Invented example (although I think I’ve seen it): if someone wrote “Right” instead of “Law” as a specialization?

10 thoughts on “Translating into the non-native language

  1. Depends if the colleague is a friend or not. If s/he is, I might try and talk to him/her about the fact that s/he maybe shouldn’t translate into English. If the colleague isn’t a friend, I’d leave it. This kind of mistake will make it clear to clients that they probably won’t get a great translation into English if they hire him/her.

  2. liseuse: ‘Fie upon you’ is a good idea – the person probably wouldn’t understand it.
    céline: That was my general feeling too. I’ll reveal the rest of the story later.

  3. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the mayor of Luxembourg has banned all translation of any nature, complete mutual incomprehension being, in his view, the only remaining means of saving the EU.

  4. I like this notion of translators being paid to stop producing. Alternatively, of course, we could be given guaranteed prices, tariff barriers to keep out competition, and export subsidies to undercut lower-cost suppliers in their own markets.

    All for the price of a cappuccino!

  5. Ciaran, I keep leaving Clarity (plain English for lawyers) and then revoking my withdrawal, but in the latest issue there are a number of interesting articles, including one by Ian Frame, ‘Don’t shoot the translator’, explaining how pseudo-English gets into EU legislation. I want to post the table of contents here but don’t know when I’ll get round to it.

    On the topic of the entry, the story is this: a colleague cited ‘Technique’ as one of her subject areas. I left it for a couple of months but eventually I happened to exchange emails and pointed out there was an error in the English. She was a bit annoyed as she had had more than one native speaker go over it. She couldn’t see the error so I even wrote ‘not “Technique” but “Technology”‘. Then a couple of days ago I thought I’d check the site, and what do I see – ‘Technics’!

  6. >She couldn’t see the error so I even wrote ‘not
    >Technique” but “Technology”‘.

    Oh, what a blooper. I would have expected something more subtle, something a non-native would not notice at first glance.

  7. I ferreted out the Clarity website to find that the back-issues are freely available but the current one is not (had expected the opposite). That Ian Frame article sounds interesting, though I recall not thinking much of his defence of ‘conclusion of contracts’.

    As for ‘technics’, what can I say. Except that maybe instead of going for a seat on the Security Council the Germans should put their efforts into getting their brand of English recognised as a proper dialect in its own right. It’s probably used more than many of the native ones. Might save the rest of us tearing our hair out, if nothing else.

  8. ‘Technics’ – of course, this translator may be looking only for German-speaking clients, and this would be a good ploy in that case. I have suggested to a client that the end client really should not have tried so hard to find native speakers of English if it, as it appeared, wanted us to deliver Germanisms.
    That article explains the various ways in which non-native speakers of English are involved in EU legislation and why their efforts are not all corrected. Very useful material for those who are constantly criticizing EU translations. I think it ought to appear in the ITI Bulletin (and the Irish equivalent?) and wonder if that might not be possible. You could give me a fax number if you would like it.

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