Beating translation to death...

Subject: Beating translation to death...
From: "JACK P. SHAW" <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 1994 15:34:48 MEZ

Boy, you guys are ruthless. It's nice to be back...

OK, Karen Kay asked me, if simpler structures in the
"translated to" language are not preferred by native
speakers, isn't there a problem then with the naturalness
of the language that's produced.

Could be a valid point, but at the expense of not wanting
to ramble any more than I had, I left out the explicit
view that I thought was implied: simpler structures are
what most people prefer, irrespective of mother tongue.
Sure, someone can name exceptions, but I'd put money on
the fact that simpler structures are what make aftermarket
tech. manuals (read, PC hard-/software books like "Big
Dummy's...") so appealing. Of course, the other part of
that is that the writer took the trouble to become imtimatelz
(my excuse--z and y are swapped on the German keyboard...)
familiar with the subject.

But all in all, aren't such aftermarket pubs more simply
and directly written? And don't they address the second person?
Good. Cultural differences abound, and Karen made that point
beautifully a while back.

Robert Bononno makes the point that (out of context here)
"'s not simply a question of terminology (but) grammar,
usage, and natural flow of the ("to") language...". Those
are the continuum (neat Scrabble word--also Qiviac, of you're
stuck with a Q with no U...that's muskox fur) with which one
would measure mediocre translation against good/super/wow
work. But turn it around: isn't the native speaker short on
those very items "by nature of birth/origin" when deciphering
the source language? That was what I wanted to point out in
that quickie German translation I tried to pull off in my
last message; that a native will just as likely take the
safe, literal out in interpreting that a non-native would
use when creating a stiff, choppy, "unfeeling" translation
from the source.

And if technical translation is the task, wouldn't simpler
construction be a worthwhile objective, right from the start?
Cultural caveats notwithstanding...

Jack Shaw
jsh -at- software-ag -dot- de

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