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05/09/07

Permalink 06:03:29 am, Categories: For professional translators, 36 words  

Interesting presentation for aspiring and new translators

Translation as a vocation is a very nice and useful Flickr presentation about the joys and pains of freelance translating.

Seen at two blogs that I will be following closely: Blogamundo and There's Something About Translation...

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05/04/07

Nice discovery

While at Technorati, I discovered the interesting English-language blog "Colloquial Spanish", which offers daily Spanish expressions and their equivalents in English. It is indeed worth a read.

Some examples of expressions mentioned on this blog:

Spanish: “Irse por los cerros de Ubeda” literally means “To go through the Hills of Ubeda”, Ubeda being a town in Spain. The English equivalent is “To go off on a tangent” or “To wander off the subject”

In English we use the phrase “To twiddle one’s thumbs” to signify that we’re lounging about or being in between activities. In Spanish the equivalent phrase would be “Rascarse la barriga” which literally means “To scratch one’s belly”

For the latter one, I left a comment suggesting the alternative and rather funny Spanish expression "Tocarse las narices" (To touch one's noses). So yes, I took the time to leave a few comments during my visit. The author seems to know his Spanish well and his blog is lots of fun. Enjoy!

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04/28/07

Permalink 09:03:04 am, Categories: For translation buyers, For professional translators, 421 words  

Translation is a disaster looking for a place to happen!

Is it? It can indeed be, when you don't take appropriate measures to assure a professional and high-quality translation. Can't you believe it? Take a look at this piece of news from CNN.com:

Doris Moore was shocked when her new couch was delivered to her Toronto home with a label that used a racial slur to describe the dark brown shade of the upholstery.

The situation was even more alarming for Moore because it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out "nigger brown" on the tag.

"My daughter saw the label and she knew the color brown, but didn't know what the other word meant. She asked, 'Mommy, what color is that?' I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I never thought that's how she'd learn of that word," Moore said.

The mother complained to the furniture store, which blamed the supplier, who pointed to a computer problem as the source of the derogatory label

Kingsoft Corp., a Chinese software company, acknowledged its translation program was at fault and said it was a regrettable error.

"I know this is a very bad word," Huang Luoyi, a product manager for the Beijing-based company's translation software, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He explained that when the Chinese characters for "dark brown" are typed into an older version of its Chinese-English translation software, the offensive description comes up.

"We got the definition from a Chinese-English dictionary. We've been using the dictionary for 10 years. Maybe the dictionary was updated, but we probably didn't follow suit," he said.

Moore, who is black, said Kingsoft's acknowledgment of a mistake does not make her feel better.

"They should know what they are typing, even if it is a software error," she said. "In order for something to come into the country, don't they read it first? Doesn't the manufacturer? The supplier?"

...

Moore is consulting with a lawyer and wants compensation. Last week, she filed a report with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Commission spokeswoman Afroze Edwards said the case is in the initial stages and could take six months to two years to resolve.

Moore, 30, has three young children, and said the issue has taken a toll on her family.

"Something more has to be done. We don't just need a personal apology, but someone needs to own up to where these labels were made, and someone needs to apologize to all people of color," Moore said. "I had friends over from St. Lucia yesterday and they wouldn't sit on the couch."

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04/17/07

Permalink 07:25:21 am, Categories: For professional translators, 381 words  

Unable to access IATE?

If you are a professional translator, chances are that you have been trying to access IATE, the European Union terminological database, with little or no success. Indeed, they have been experiencing technical problems, and though these are over now, there is something to do on your computers to make it work. Fellow Greek translator Nick Lingris explains here how to go about it (copied below for your convenience):

At the bottom of the IATE search screen there is a frame which reads: Your last 10 requests. If you have been having problems with your searches and you click on ‘Select a saved request’, you will see that there is a very long string which has been created as a result of incorrect saving of your searches by the IATE program. This string is saved in the IATE cookie and, when it can no longer be updated, searches stop functioning. This happens regardless of the browser you use. The solution, for the time being, seems to be to delete the IATE cookie. DO NOT follow the solution that says ‘Delete cookies’ because there are many cookies there which you need.

For IE, follow these steps:
In Windows Explorer go to Documents and Settings > Your Computer Name (mine, for example, is Nick) > Cookies. Click on Search at the top. Choose to Search for Documents. Use Advanced search options and, where it says ‘All or part of the document name’ type ‘iate’ (without the quotes). Press Search and, once the results of the search come up, delete the iate cookie(s) (mine is called nick@iate.europa[2].txt).
Close and re-open Internet Explorer so it forgets the cookie it had in memory. When you reconnect to IATE, the ‘Select a saved request’ frame should be empty and the searches should function properly until a false string is recreated, in which case you will have to repeat the procedure. Or, hopefully, the IATE team will soon solve the problem.

For Firefox, do not use Windows Explorer. In the Firefox browser, go to Tools > Options > Privacy > Show Cookies. In the Search box type ‘iate’ (without the quotes) and Remove cookies with the iate name. Close and re-open Firefox.

I followed the procedure myself (on FireFox) and I can again access IATE, which is of course great news!

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03/21/07

English-Spanish translation pitfalls #2

English and Spanish are different. Hardly a surprise, right? But they are different in many ways that sometimes can go unnoticed, especially if you are so focused on the original English text that you fail to step back and think: wait, this is not how I would express myself in Spanish if I wasn't translating...

One of these important differences is in the use of personal pronouns. While in English we use them very often, this is not the case in Spanish. There is a reason for this. Let's take a look at conjugation for a common verb, like "say" ("decir" in Spanish):

I say
You say
He/she says
We say
You say
They say

Yo digo
Tú dices
Él/ella/usted dice
Nosotros decimos
Vosotros decís
Ellos/ellas/ustedes dicen

It becomes clear that personal pronouns are essential in English in order to specify which person is "saying" something or performing any other action. However, in Spanish we can easily stick to:

Digo
Dices
Dice
Decimos
Decís
Dicen

Since all of these verb forms are different in writing and pronunciation, we really do not need the pronouns to specify the person performing the action. Every verb form already provides this information.

This is why in Spanish we rarely use personal pronouns in a text or in oral speech. We do use them for emphasis, or when the context may lead to confusion if we didn't use a personal pronoun. However, most of the time, the verb form alone is enough (and more than this is considered poor, unnatural style.)

English example: I think they noticed that we didn't attend.
Personal pronouns: 3
Spanish translation: Creo que se dieron cuenta de que no asistimos.
Personal pronouns: 0!

The alternative translation with all personal pronouns "Yo creo que ellos se dieron cuenta de que nosotros no asistimos", even though grammatically correct, is really a pain to read or hear, and is anything but natural in Spanish...

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