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41766Re: [Czechlist] Re: RANT: Czech-English dictionary compilers

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  • James Kirchner
    Jan 3, 2010
      What you were doing with your husband's business materials was a valid form of translation, since it was important not to embarrass your husband's business by transferring the Czech style into English (whether he knew it or not).

      One of my largest single jobs was translating a historical/technical book, most of which had already been "translated", if you can call it that. I would say that at least 40% of the English text -- very beautifully written, by the way -- had simply been made up from the translator's imagination using scattered words he saw in the source text as inspiration.

      Then I have gotten product manuals in which the (apparently Czech) translator didn't bother to look up the difference between "lzice" and "lzicka", and just said "spoon" for both, creating catastrophic recipes, in combination with the other bizarre things he did, such as translating both wheat flour and rye flour as wheat flour everywhere in the text. The guy was clearly making a lot of it up also.

      In another case, the target segments had been copied and pasted from a competitor's user manual without any real regard as to whether they meant the same thing.

      Maybe I've gained the reputation of Mr. Fix-It or something, but I get things like that with relative frequency. Not every month, but at least a couple times a year.


      On Jan 3, 2010, at 4:30 PM, Liz Spacilova wrote:

      > I'll admit that some of my first translations - involving marketing materials for my husband's company back in the early 90s - did look like that. My Czech was still terrible, but I knew what his business was and took what he wrote as a clue for what I should include in his text; the thought of just translating his awkward stiff language made me cringe. He hated my redo, of course, but after a few battles we found something that actually said what he wanted to say and sounded OK.

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