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03/21/07

Permalink 06:23:03 am, Categories: For professional translators, 35 words  

Long live IATE!

This piece of news is spreading like wildfire among translators, but in case you don't know yet, the successor to EurodicAutom, the European Union terminological database, is already here: IATE (Inter Active Terminology for Europe).

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03/17/07

Permalink 10:26:00 am, Categories: For translation buyers, For professional translators, 462 words  

Why is translation such a tricky project to undertake?

You might wonder why there seems to be so much concern about quality when it comes to translation. Aren’t all translation providers more or less the same?

The truth of the matter is, there is a bit of everything in the translation arena, and probably less excellence than mediocrity.

Let’s face it: translation is not a highly reputed profession. Only if you are well ahead in your learning curve do you know that computer translation is not a good idea, and that speaking two languages is far from enough to make anybody a good translator. There is a generally held belief that translation is easy. Hey, even I was naive enough to choose translation studies because I thought they would be easy for me, considering my knack and love for languages! When you are in this frame of mind, you expect professional translation to be quick and cheap, and you will do everything possible to find a translation provider that matches your budget. And you probably will, no matter how low you set your limit.

On the other hand, high-quality translation providers strive a great deal to find quality translators. They start out by selecting translators with seemingly solid profiles and qualifications, and then they test them, only to keep about 1 out of 10 of them. Top-notch professional translators tend to be on the expensive side because they generate a lot of demand for their services. But some translation providers are less concerned with quality than they are concerned with boosting their bottom line, and hire translators who charge low rates. Why do these translators charge low rates? Usually because the quality of their work does not attract that much business, and instead of trying to study and work harder to improve themselves — which admittedly takes a good deal of time and effort — they choose low pricing as their winning argument. Whether they do this out of immediate financial necessity or lack of pride for what they do, the outcome is more or less the same: substandard translations.

Of course, not many things in this life are completely black or white, but these are general patterns. You can sometimes find good translators who are cheap — though they tend to quickly increase their rates as they are soon flooded with work — and you can find not-so-good translators who charge high rates. How do they manage it? Who knows!

The point of this post is not telling you to go with the most expensive translation provider you can find. The point is rather highlighting the importance of taking appropriate measures to assess your prospective translation provider’s quality, and hopefully caring about price later. With a little bit of luck, this reading will save you some hard trial-and-error steps in your learning curve!

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03/16/07

English-Spanish translation pitfalls #1

The English words "eligible" and "eligibility" are often translated as "elegible" and "elegibilidad" in Spanish. In my opinion, these are unnecessary and rather ugly calques. These words do exist in Spanish, but they mostly refer to people who can legally be elected (and are thus eligible) for political positions. But it is admittedly not always easy to translate these words into Spanish without using those calques. Depending on the context, these would be some of my suggested options:

Somebody that is "eligible":

- Cumple los requisitos para
- Reúne las condiciones para
- Está cualificado / calificado para
- Tiene derecho a
- Puede optar a
- Puede acceder a
- Es candidato a
- Corresponde a los criterios de selección
- Se ajusta al perfil
- Es idóneo para
- Es apto para

And eligibility may be translated as:

- Derecho a
- Idoneidad para
- Aptitud para
- Cualificación / calificación para

There are probably other "eligible" options, but the ones included here should already help in many contexts. The idea is asking yourself how you would say what the English text is conveying if you were writing in Spanish from scratch rather than translating from English...

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03/15/07

New blog section

Today I posted a comment about some differences between English and Spanish on another translation blog, and it gave me an idea for a new section here. The new section will be called "English-Spanish translation pitfalls" and it will point out key differences between these two languages that any English-Spanish translator should know in order to produce high-quality, smooth and polished translations. I won't promise it will be a weekly section. Some weeks I may write several such posts, some weeks maybe none. But I will try and keep this section alive and keep those posts coming!

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02/23/07

The beginning of the end...

... or a change of direction.

I confess that I have my wife read all my posts before publishing them. And her opinion counts a lot. She finds that my blog is gradually taking on a gloomy, depressing tone, and that anybody who reads it will get the impression that I am utterly unhappy, which I am not. As regards Spanish translation, I am indeed disappointed with the current state of things, but if I keep on chewing mediocrity all the time, I'll just end up giving up translation altogether and not trying to do what I can to support it anymore. This is the end of such posts, and this is also the end of the Funny translation of the week section, which is just not that funny to me anymore. From now on, this blog posts will focus on supporting quality translations and high standards and practices, and more or less forgetting about all the rest. That should be more productive and healthy. And there are indeed good Spanish translators and translation companies out there, only not that many — sorry, it's going to take me some time to get the knack of my new direction. ;)

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