Re: Beating translation to death...

Subject: Re: Beating translation to death...
From: Karen Kay <karenk -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 1994 10:57:40 -0800

JACK P. SHAW said:
> 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.

But how do you know that the simpler structures you prefer
are those that a native speaker (who is also a technical
writer) would choose?

> 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?

Yes, to some extent. But it's much easier to understand nuance
than it is to express nuance. The best translations pass before
native editors of both source and target languages.

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

But if the translation smacks of English instead of the target
language, then it is a bad translation no matter how simple the
structures are.

karenk -at- netcom -dot- com

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