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“Pain of the field” es lo de menos

Varios medios españoles y internacionales nos han ofrecido la noticia esta semana de que la web del Ministerio de Industria, Comercio y Turismo tiene una noticia en inglés sobre el nombramiento de un tal “pain of field” como miembro del Oficina Internacional de Pesas y Medidas. Este nombre raro es el resultado de la traducción automática del nombre de Dolores del Campo.

Una de las noticias más compartidas sobre el tema es bastante sorprendente: la de Euronews tiene un inglés muy deficiente, probablemente como resultado de una traducción automática.

Otra cosa que me ha sorprendido es que todos los medios de comunicación españoles que han hecho eco de la noticia tan solo hablan de la traducción automática al inglés, cuando resulta que en los tres idiomas cooficiales (catalán, gallego y vasco), también se ha traducido el nombre o el apellido, o ambos.*

Las versiones de la noticia en catalán y vasco

Las versiones de la noticia en catalán y gallego

(*Cuando escribí este artículo,tan solo se había corregido el nombre de Dolores del Campo en inglés. Ahora, se ha corregido en todas las versiones.)

Puesto que el euskera no se parece a ningún otro idioma que hablo, es más difícil para mi ver lo que ha pasado con la versión en dicho idioma, pero aún así, soy capaz de ver que la versión de la noticia en cuestión es un desastre, con paréntesis que no se cierran y sin la presencia del nombre “Dolores del Campo”. Un usuario de Twitter me ha dicho que su nombre también ha sido traducido al euskera, pero que la traducción significa algo como “Campo de Minas”.

Lo que pasa con las versiones en catalán, gallego y vasco es, según mi parecer, peor que lo que pasa con la versión en inglés. ¿Por qué? Porque, a diferencia de la versión en inglés, las versiones en los idiomas cooficiales no existen para que ciudadanos extranjeros puedan entender la noticia (todos ya entienden el castellano), sino para proteger los derechos lingüísticos de los propios ciudadanos españoles.

Si consultamos el resto de la web en catalán, encontramos errores de traducción en prácticamente todas las noticias. Me imagino que pasa los mismo en gallego y euskera. Entonces, ¿quién va a consultar una versión en lengua cooficial si es de tan pésima calidad? Nadie. Leerán la web en castellano. Entonces, ¿para qué existen las otras versiones?

Creo que existen simplemente para que el ministerio y el gobierno puedan fingir que les interesa una España plural que respeta su pluralidad lingüística. Pero lo único que han hecho es buscar la solución barata, sin preguntar a ningún usuario de dichos idiomas si el resultado es adecuado. Y no lo es.

Hace unos años, yo tenía que presentar un modelo a Hacienda y durante días no lo encontraba en su web. Lo estaba buscando en su web en catalán, puesto que es mi idioma de preferencia entre las lenguas de España. Al final, consulté la versión en castellano y lo encontré. Desde entonces, tan solo he utilizado la versión en castellano de la web de Hacienda porque, desgraciadamente, la versión en catalán me había dado problemas demasiadas veces.

Soy traductor al inglés, así que, económicamente, cuanto más se traduce al inglés mejor (siempre que sea con traductores humanos, claro). Pero los derechos lingüísticos son más importantes que mi bolsillo. La prioridad del Ministerio de Industria, Comercio y Turismo tiene que ser arreglar sus versiones vergonzosas en lenguas cooficiales y aparcar la versión en inglés si no tiene presupuesto para hacerlo bien.

Dada la cercanía de las lenguas catalana y gallega con la castellana, el uso de la traducción automática tiene sentido. Pero las traducciones automáticas siempre, PERO SIEMPRE, se tienen que revisar para evitar disparates como el que hemos visto esta semana.

En el caso de la versión en euskera, aunque no conozco este idioma, me imagino que la traducción automática no será tan útil, así que el ministerio tendrá que contratar un traductor si quieren mantener esta versión.

Es posible que el ministerio no tenga recursos para contratar a correctores para las versiones en catalán y gallego y a un traductor para la versión en euskera. Si es así (aunque me parece grave que el gobierno central no dedique recursos para el uso oficial de los idiomas cooficiales), más vale que borren las versiones en dichos idiomas, porque, como ya he dicho, actualmente tan solo sirven para hacer el ridículo.

Para acabar, vuelvo al tema de los medios de comunicación. ¿Cómo puede ser que los medios de comunicación españoles dan más importancia a los errores en inglés que a los errores en castellano? ¿Cuando habrá una noticia en un periódico español sobre las terribles traducciones a lenguas cooficiales de los webs de los ministerios? Es como si ya se ha asumido que el único idioma de España que tiene importancia es el castellano. Si a la prensa española le interesa más la traducción en inglés que la traducción a las lenguas nacionales, tiene un problema muy serio.

(Tal como comenté más arriba, ahora el nombre “Dolores del Campo” aparece correctamente en los tres idiomas. Sin embargo, las versiones en idioma cooficial de esta noticia y de otras en el mismo portal siguen sin corregirse. En la noticia catalana, por ejemplo, todavía aparece “Centre Español [sic] de Metrologia”, y la versión en euskera todavía tiene sus paréntesis muy raros.)

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Financial translation CPD part 1: the 3rd ICEBFIT conference in Alicante

I have just returned from attending two events related to financial translation: the 3rd International Conference on Economic, Business, Financial and Institutional Translation, at the University of Alicante, and the Summer School for Financial Translators, in Brussels. This post is about the first of the two.

I had already attended the first conference in 2014, and although it was very academic, many practitioners also attended, including representatives of several international institutions. One speaker from a major international institution did an excellent talk about recruitment processes in institutions, and after I spoke to her and sent a CV, I began receiving interesting projects at good rates. For that reason alone it had been worth my while attending the conference.

The headline act this year was Chris Durban, who spoke on “Dichotomies, differentiators and predictors. What mystery shopping can teach us about successful corporate translation”. Unfortunately I arrived late after TAP Air Portugal cancelled one of my flights, so I missed most of the opening day, including Chris’s presentation and that of well-known Spanish financial translator Javier Gil González, who spoke on “Emerging areas of work for financial translators” (voted best presentation by those who attended the conference).

On the final day, Ondrej Klabal and Michal Kubanek of Palacky University Olomouc (Czech Republic) presented research that showed how translation students produced better translation when they were exposed in advance to some kind of professional discourse on the same broad subject matter, either in the form of a TV interview or in the form of a newspaper article.

Two days earlier, Defeng Li of the University of Macau also presented research on preparation, but this time for conference interpreters rather than translators. The researchers found that interpreters who were given preparation material plenty of time in advance, allowing them to prepare properly, performed better than those who received no preparation material at all. No surprise there. What was most interesting about the team’s findings, however, was that interpreters who were given only 10 minutes to read their preparation material actually performed worse than those who had no preparation time at all. Analysis using eye-tracking technology suggested that those who received last-minute material were too distracted to interpret properly, because they were looking through their glossaries while simultaneously trying to listen to the speaker and translate what they were saying.

All but one of the presentations I was able to attend following my late arrival were by speakers affiliated to universities, so it felt like the “institutional” aspect of the conference had been neglected a little this year. This made the event less attractive to practitioners. Although the conference was well organised and many of the topics were interesting, before deciding whether to attend the next edition I will look carefully at the programme and weigh up whether I will get a good return on my investment. If the organisers can attract more institutional speakers, like they did in 2014, then I’ll almost certainly sign up again. If not, I’ll probably only go if I happen to be in the area around the same dates for another event.

This year I was attending another event less than a week later: the Summer School for Financial Translators. More on that in my next post…

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CPD at sea!

As a translator who has now been specialising in sailing for over three years, I thought it was about time I spent some time out on the water myself, learning how to sail and seeing first-hand what all the terms I use mean, so I signed up to Good Hope Sailing Academy‘s Competent Crew course. We had some theory classes, but it was mainly a practical course, out on the water.

The first two days we didn’t get far out of the harbour, because the wind was too strong for us novices, so we spent quite a lot of time on the theory. On day 3, however, we sailed much further, and on day 4 we went right out to Robben Island. The experience has been thoroughly enjoyable, thanks in no small part to the other students and our excellent skipper/teacher Digby.

As you can see, the views of Table Mountain and the surrounding hills from the water are pretty awesome!

A brief moment to relax while heading back towards Cape Town on a starboard tack.

A brief moment to relax as we close-hauled back towards Cape Town on a starboard tack.

Terminology was an important part of the course, which is one of the reasons why I signed up. The terms we learned were related to the parts of the boat, the names and parts of the sails, the points of sail and manoeuvres, among others. Many of the terms were ones that I was already familiar with, having used them in my translations, but it was helpful to see those terms in practical use, and it was reassuring to hear the captain use certain terms and expressions in the same way that I had used them in my translations, confirming that I’d used good sources when researching terminology and collocations. For example, hearing the skipper say “Shake out the reef” provided welcome reassurance that I use the correct expression to refer to the removal of a reef (i.e. a fold) from the mainsail. I also learned dozens of new terms, such as cleats (fittings used to secure lines), stanchions (the vertical posts to which the guard rails are attached), clew (the corner of a sail between the foot and the leech, or back edge) and to pinch (to sail too close to the wind, as a result of which the sail begins to flap).

Translators will tell you that one of the causes of a poor translation is that the translator has not understood the text. Thanks to this Competent Crew course, I will better understand the texts I will be translating and will be more aware of how to use the terms and expressions in English. I also believe it will help me better engage with conference attendees when I attend sailing conferences, since I will be able to better understand the conversations between session and participate in them.

On day 3 I was feeling a little unwell, and at one point I actually felt like I didn’t want to ever sail again! But I caught the bug again on day 4, and perhaps at some point in the future I’ll sign up to the Day Captain course!

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Translation, a high-performance sport

This month, I finally got hold of my copy of La traduction, un sport de haut niveau (“Translation, a high-performance sport”), which is the title given to the June edition of Traduire, the journal published by the Société française des traducteurs. It was published way back in June 2016, but with moving house it got sent to my old address and I didn’t get hold of it until October this year.

It was the first time I had subscribed to the magazine, not because I was not interested, but because I wondered when I would find the time to read it. But edition 234 was dedicated to sports translations, a field in which I specialise, so I was looking forward to reading it.

There was a mixed bag of authors: some who focus only on one or two sports, some who translate other fields in addition to sport, and some who are translators who dedicate much of their free time to sport.

The pedalling translator

In Traduire à vélo, which I will liberally translate as “The pedalling translator”, Jonathan Hine (website, blog) begins by telling a short story. He then tells us about his life as a nomadic translator who travels around North America and Europe by bicycle. Interestingly, Jonathan says that his professional profile on the American Translators Association‘s website is by far his main source of new clients.

Jonathan discusses many of the difficulties encountered by nomadic translators. Whenever possible, he stays in accommodation with WiFi, though he can use his smartphone if all else fails. Given his nomadic lifestyle, it is surprising that he did not get his first smartphone until 2014. He does rent a small flat in Italy that he uses for storage or for receiving items in the post (though more often that not, he has parcels sent to friends or hotels). If Jonathan ever wants to cycle around Southern Africa, I could recommend a few routes in South Africa and Namibia! He ends his article with a list of pros and cons, which anyone considering becoming a nomadic translator would do well to read before taking the plunge.

Mourinho, the interpreter’s nightmare

In Le cauchemare des interprètes, or “The interpreter’s nightmare”, Laurent Laget (website) writes at length about the man we all love to hate, pantomime villain José Mourinho. Mourinho is known for speaking half a dozen languages, and according to Laget, “Mourinho learned Catalan” when working for FC Barcelona as Bobby Robson’s interpreter. However, like the late Johan Cruijff, despite learning to speak several other languages Mourinho has never been heard speaking Catalan in public. He certainly learned to understand Catalan, as evidenced by interviews in which the journalist asked him questions in Catalan and he responded in Spanish, but when he went to Real Madrid, he started refusing to answer questions posed to him in Catalan, saying he did not understand.

Laurent looks at some of the press conferences in which Mourinho has reacted to the intervention of the interpreter. In one instance, Mourinho protested after “we didn’t deserve to win” became “we deserved to win”! By contrast, on another occasion, Mourinho was so impressed by the efforts of a Romanian translator that he chirped: “Who pays this guy? His salary should be doubled!” Laurent also mentions that some of Mourinho’s opponents use “translator” as a taunt, as if to insult him. We should applaud how Mourinho responded on one occasion: “Don’t call me a translator because that would be an offence to every translator.” Laurent’s insightful article concludes with some thoughts on how learning a foreign language is beneficial to players’ integration. He concludes by saying that languages are a powerful tool for integration, which benefits a player’s well-being, and therefore his or her performance on the field.

Golf and concentration skills

In Golf et traduction : de la page blanche à la balle (literally “Golf and translation: from the blank page to the white ball”, but the French title works better as it uses the same word for “blank” and “white”!), Céline Graciet (website) talks about how she enjoys playing golf and draws parallels between golf and translation. According to Céline, the concentration skills she uses on the fairways and greens (and perhaps occasionally in the rough or the bunkers!) are extremely helpful when she is sat at her desk, and she says that playing golf makes her more productive. Recently, Céline is delighted to have been regularly translating documents for a new golf club.

The power of corpora

Over the page I found a very familiar name: that of Simon Berrill (website, blog). I skipped past L’art du cliché, not because I wasn’t interested in what Simon had to say, but because I’d already read The right clichés — the original from which this French text was translated — on Simon’s blog. Simon mentions the abundance of clichés in sports writing and how using corpora can help translators working on a text about a sport with which they are less familiar. He suggests building corpora using WebBootCat and analysing it using one of my favourite tools, AntConc.

Terminology on track

Next up, Taffy Martin discusses cross-border athletics in L’athlétisme à travers les frontières. She focuses mainly on the differences between how athletes spend their formative years in France and in the United States, but I think the most interesting part is where she looks at athletics terminology. Taffy notes that certain event names in English have evolved to reflect international usage (a precursor to euro-English in the EU institutions?), such as broad jump and hop, step and jump becoming long jump and triple jump, respectively, as a result of which the French event names are transparent to English readers.

As a translator working for the IAAF, Taffy was asked to translate articles from English to French, i.e. from her mother tongue to her second language. She talks about an article she agreed to translate about race walking, and notes how certain terms used in English for both running and race walking have two different translations in French. For instance, both disciplines use the term stride in English, but French uses foulée in running and pas in race walking. This situation, where a term in the source language can be translated by two different terms in the target language, depending on the sport, is a common occurrence that sports translators must be wary of. Simon Berrill’s article (see the previous paragraph) gives an example in the opposite direction: the translation of the French word arbitre is referee in some sports (football, rugby, boxing…) and umpire in other sports (most racket sports, but also some ball sports like netball and hockey), the choice between the words being somewhat, ahem, arbitrary.

Back in 2003, Taffy worked in a team of around 15 voluntary interpreters at the 2003 World Championships at the Stade de France (I, by the way, was there too, sat high up in the stands for the entire week watching the action!). She talks about the challenge of helping illiterate athletes, often with broken English, during drug tests. With all the money in sports like football and Formula 1, it is often easy to forget that many sports, including athletics, rely on huge numbers of volunteers, and an event like the World Athletics Championships could not take place without them. Translators need to bear in mind crude economic realities when looking for job opportunities.

The controversy of the substituted substitute

Hiroko Nakao (website) writes about working as Une correspondante sportive dans l’abîme du décalage langagier (“A sports correspondent in a language gulf”). Hiroko, a Japanese sports translator who works mainly in football, discusses the “often extremely short deadlines” she faces, which is something that I think all sports translators can identify with. Hiroko worked for five years as a sports correspondent, mainly covering a French football club’s takeover by a Japanese company on behalf of a Japanese sports newspaper, with a role that was far broader than that of a translator and interpreter. She mentions an incident in which the newspaper had changed a word used to refer to a substitute to make the article shorter, but the changed word had negative connotations that had left the club chairman fuming. After that incident, Hiroko would always leave a note at the end of each report specifying that the taboo word should not be used.

The interpreter-cum-commentator

Vanessa De Pizzol interviews Patrick Kendrick (website, blog), who is both a football interpreter and a sports commentator. (Is anybody as jealous as I am?) He had been told by one of his university interpreting lecturers that football press conferences are organised by clubs, who hire their own interpreters, often through agencies, and it is through a specialist football-interpreting agency that he began working as an interpreter in football. Asked about José Mourinho, Patrick mentions two positive experiences working with him. Regarding the role of the interpreter, Patrick says that when a manager says something controversial in a press conference, the home club’s press secretary might sometimes ask the interpreter not to translate it.

Patrick began working as a commentator when, after moving to Milan, he was asked to provide English commentary for the Italian league. He loves both careers and hopes that he will never have to choose between the two.

Adrenaline-powered translation

In Traduction sous adrénaline (“Translation on adrenaline”), Heather Watson (website, blog) discusses her role translating and interpreting (though officially as a “press officer”) for the sport of motorcycling, which is dominated by Italian teams, but has racers from all over the world. Like Hiroko Nakao, Heather mentions the “extremely tight publication deadlines”, with press releases that need to be completed in half an hour. She notes that translating for Twitter and for video subtitles has improved her ability to write concisely. As an interpreter, Heather says it is vital for her to know the technical terminology used in her sport, especially where two terms might be easily confused, such as forcella (the fork to which the front wheel is attached) and forcellone (the swinging arm to which the rear wheel is attached). She also mentions pseudo-English words that are misused, such as feeling, which she normally translates using a paraphrase referring to being in sync with the bike.

The forgotten specialist field

Idriss Chaplain (website), who translated the autobiography of four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome into French, says that sport is a much-maligned field in translation faculties, where lecturers rarely decide to work on sports translations, despite sport playing such an important role in today’s society. In his article, La passion, la tête et les jambes, Idriss recalls his surprise when he heard Laurent Laget tell an audience that sports translators regularly average 10,000 words a day! I have to say that I too am surprised, as I cannot recall ever translating quite that many words, though I have often had to translate around 1,000 words in about an hour. Sports translators often spot mistranslations made by non-specialists, and Idriss gives an example of the term clean sheet, which, during his master’s degree, many of his classmates translated as blanchissage, rather than writing cage inviolée. This is what Simon Berrill means when he refers to the importance of finding the right cliché.

Correcting the source text

Emmanuelle Hingant, whose Twitter feed includes a Tweet about a translation she did for the Irish National Ploughing Championships (yes, really!), also touches on the subject of clichés, or phrases bateau as she calls them, in Les mots du football : viser juste et respecter le jeu (“The words of football: aiming properly and playing fair”). By way of example, she mentions the number of times that the phrase “À la fin de la journée” crops up in translations of interviews, a mistranslation of “At the end of the day”. Emmannuelle says she usually has no problems translating player interviews, but sometimes struggles translating the words of managers who use long-winded answers to express a single idea. She gives an excellent example from an interview with Roy Hodgson when he was the England manager. “It’s better to try to reproduce the idea, rather than translating each sentence word for word,” she says.

Like me, and probably most sports translators, Emmannuelle finds errors in most of her source texts, and she agrees with me that we should point out such mistakes to the client, who expects us to do so. She adds that the only way for a translator to be able to point out certain mistakes in football texts is through “knowledge of the history of football, and knowledge of results, the Laws of the Game and the league tables”.

Sports de glisses

Elisabeth Monrozier (website) writes about Les anglicismes dans les sports de glisse. But what are sports de glisse? It is a term I first came across when I began working in sailing, and refers to a myriad of sports in which people slide across a surface, such as water, snow or ice, or even through the air. The term is a tricky one to translate because it is a case where French and English simply categorise things differently to each other. If you search for translations online, a common suggestion is boardsports (see this Proz answer and see the English language link on the French Wikipedia page). But remember where I said I first read the term: sailing. But although sailing is considered a sport de glisse (the boat slides across the water), it is certainly not a boardsport! For me, there is no one solution that fits every circumstance. You normally need to reword your translation based on the context.

Moving back to Elisabeth’s article, whose title I’ll translate as “Anglicisms in urban, nautical and winter sports”, the author looks at the influx of Anglicisms in new sports that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, such as freestyle and freeride (the kind of events you see in the X Games. Elisabeth explains that one reason why Anglicisms abound in these sports is because of the informal way in which the sports arose, without national sports federations to provide standardised French translations. Instead, there was a “community spirit”, and the translator, argues Elisabeth, can help the author be perceived as a member of that community by carefully choosing to use certain Anglicisms. She refers to three different situations: terms that have a single exact equivalent in French, terms that have a French equivalent used alongside an Anglicism, and terms that have no French equivalent.

The following fragment, which I quote in the original French (my emphasis in bold), is particularly interesting:

Prenons par exemple la figure consistant à sauter en réalisant un tour complet sur soi-même. Réalisée avec un skate, elle s’appelle un three sixty, mais se le sportif est chaussé de skis, c’est un trois-six.

First, we have another example of the same term in one language having two different translations in another, depending which sport is being referred to. In French, a three-sixty is called a trois-six when performed on skis, but a three-sixty on… On what? One might logically assume that skate refers to skating or skates. But skating is normally called le roller (except on ice, when it’s called le patinage). Le skate refers not to skating but to skateboarding! French tends to shorten many of the Anglicisms it adopts. Usually, though, this shortening of words merely involves dropping the -ing, so when Elisabeth’s article refers to the sports surf, ski, snowboard and windsurf, it is discussing surfing, skiing, snowboarding and windsurfing, respectively. So you would expect skateboarding to be le skateboard, but it is further shortened to le skate.

Elisabeth briefly discusses the illogical gender of some of the borrowed words from English, such as le team, even though équipe, the French word for team, is feminine. She then concludes that there are no hardfast rules and wisely advises sports translators, and translators in any field, that “the best glossary out there is no replacement for meticulous research”.

La course à pied vs. le running

Laura Orsal (website) writes about translating for the sports press, particularly texts about running, in Traduire pour la presse sportive : l’exemple de la course à pied (“Translating for the sports press: the example of running”). According to Laura, translations of articles about running are usually for a well-informed audience looking for “tips on training, food and equipment and nice stories to inspire and motivate them”. Like Elisabeth Monrozier, Laura notes the strong US influence on the language used in French, the perfect example being the influx of the English word run and its derivatives in the names of French blogs and magazines.

One issue the sports translator must face, says Laura, is the constant introduction of new concepts. She gives the word priming, which refers to a training technique, as an example. This term has been translated into French as amorce. Laura also discusses innovations in equipment, including clothing and footwear that incorporate “patented technologies with untranslatable names”.

Laura gives CrossFit as an example of a discipline in which Anglicisms are abundant, mentioning the terms kettlebell, skills, metcons, and providing definitions of all three in the footnotes.

Laura says that being a runner herself helps her understand the jargon, and therefore the text, and her examples of how to translate certain concepts prove that her knowledgeable about running is profound. She concludes by saying that sports translations “require excellent knowledge of the sport you are translating”. Having myself translated texts about sports I am less familiar, such as handball (and sailing when I first started working on sailing texts), my viewpoint is more in line with that of Idriss Chaplain (see above), who says that even when dealing with an unknown sport, someone who is familiar with sport in general will “assimilate the jargon much more easily, and turns of phrase will come more naturally”. However, I agree with Laura that by practising a sport (or, may I add, specialising in translating a specific sport) saves time when working on a text in that sport.

A valuable read
I would like to congratulate SFT for this fascinating edition of Traduire, which I advise any current or budding sports translator to read. The digital version will be freely accessible online from June 2018.

Idriss Chaplain mentioned sports translation being largely ignored in translation faculties, but it is also largely ignored by translation associations too, so I applaud the Société française des traducteurs for their initiative in organising this special edition of Traduire.

Are you a sports translator?
Unfortunately sports translation is a field ignored not only by faculties, but also by translation associations. I can’t remember ever hearing about any event or even a talk at a conference that specifically addresses sports translation. I already know around a dozen sports translators, but would love to hear from a few more, and perhaps one day organise a day of talks, maybe through a translation association. If you’re a sports translator, please drop me a line, either in the comments section or using the contact details on my website.

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La facturation en monnaie étrangère : un formulaire pour convertir les prix en euros selon la loi française

La loi française permet la facturation en monnaie étrangère, et le portail de l’Économie, des Finances, de l’Action et des Comptes publics explique comment le faire.

Pour le calcul du montant en euros de vos factures, j’ai créé un formulaire Excel. Il suffit d’introduire la date de facture, le montant et la devise pour que le formulaire vous calcule le montant en euros selon les deux méthodes permis par la loi française. Les taux de changes utilisés pour les conversions sont les taux officiaux de la Banque centrale européenne, qui publie les taux de référence utilisés par les autorités françaises.

ConversionFacturesDevises par anglopremier.com.

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A guide to pronouncing the place names in reports about the terrorist attacks in Catalonia

Journalists have been struggling with the pronunciation of Catalan place names in the aftermath of last week’s tragic events in Catalonia. Strangely, sometimes the names of places in Catalonia and the rest of Spain are pronounced as if they were French, with a nasal vowel creeping in to place names that begin with “Sant”, for instance. This phenomenon is known as a hyperforeignism.

Journalists should not be expected to pronounce place names exactly as they are pronounced in the original language, but the purpose of these tips is to offer the best compromise pronunciation, i.e. a pronunciation that uses sounds that we use in English. In other words, it would sound pretentious to pronounce the r of the French city Rennes out of the back of the throat, like the French do, but it makes sense to avoid pronouncing the final s, since it is easy for an English-speaking person to do so and it does not sound unnatural.

I’ve refrained from using phonetic symbols to make this guide accessible. A linguist will spot inconsistencies in my “transcriptions”, but they’re intended to be read by English speakers as if they were English words. The syllables written in all caps are the stressed syllables. The letters uh indicate a schwa sound, like the initial a in the English word about.

Barcelona: This one’s easy. I think we can consider this one to be Anglicised, like Paris (in which we pronounce the s, even though it is silent in French). So just pronounce it the usual English way. But whatever you do, please don’t pronounce the letter c as a th! It sounds pretentious, and although it is part of the Spanish pronunciation, in Catalan, the c in Barcelona is pronounced as an s, just like in English. Recommended pronunciation: [bar-suh-LO-nah].

Cambrils: Another easy one for English speakers. Read it as written, including the final s. The stress in on the final syllable: Recommended pronunciation: [kuhm-BREELS].

Sant Sadurní (d’Anoia): I’ve put the final part in brackets because, although it is part of the official name, it is usually left out, in the same way that Newcastle-upon-Tyne becomes Newcastle. The pronunciation is quite straightforward. Note that in Catalan and Spanish (unlike in French), accented vowels indicate the stress, so Sadurní is stressed on the final syllable. The only other thing to note is that the final t of Sant is silent in most Catalan dialects. Recommended pronunciation: [SAN suh-dur-NEE (duh-NOY-a)].

Sant Just: Like in the above, you can drop the t, so Sant is pronounced [San] (don’t make it sound like the French word Saint!). The j of Just is pronounced like the s in vision, or the j in words borrowed from French, like jus. Recommended pronunciation: [SAN JOOST].

Alcanar: The main mistake I’ve heard with this one is a stress on the first syllable; it should be on the final syllable. The final r is silent in standard Catalan, but is pronounced in the accent of the people living in that part of southern Catalonia. Recommended pronunciations: [uhl-kuh-NAR] or [uhl-kuh-NA].

Subirats: The important thing here is to place the stress on the final syllable. All the letters are pronounced. Recommended pronunciation: [soo-be-RATS].

Ripoll: No, it doesn’t sound like the English word ripple! The double l produces a sound that doesn’t exist in English and is hard to pronounce. But we can get close enough by pronouncing it like a letter y. The stress is on the final syllable. Recommended pronunciation: [ri-POY].

Vilafranca (del Penedès): There are several places called Vilafranca in the Catalan sprachraum, but since this one is the biggest, Vilafranca del Penedès is often shortened to Vilafranca. The pronunciation of the short form is straightforward; English speakers will even relax the unstressed vowels in the same way that a Catalan would. If reading the long form, the word Penedès is stressed on the final syllable, as indicated by the accented vowel. Recommended pronunciation: [vi-la-FRAN-ka (duhl puh-nuh-DES)].

Pau Pérez: Not a place name, but the name of one of the victims. The first name should be familiar to basketball fans, thanks to Pau Gasol. I’ve written it as “pow” in the recommended pronunciation. Note that this should rhyme with cow, not with bow. In the surname Pérez, the first syllable is stressed, as indicated by the accented vowel. It is a Spanish name, so most Spaniards (including Catalans) would pronounce the z as a th sound, but in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world people would pronounce it as a hard s sound, so this would also be acceptable. Recommended pronunciations: [POW PEH-reth] or [POW PEH-ress].

Have I missed any out? Leave a comment below, or tweet me, and I’ll add any other places you’d like to know how to pronounce.

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How to remove an initial cap from glossary entries

Many online glossaries start every term with a capital letter, such as in this example:

  • Comptes d’accumulation
  • Accumulation accounts

Since these terms would only be capped at the start of a sentence, translators ought to import them without the initial caps.

Use the following formula in Excel to remove leading caps. The formula below assumes the first term is in cell E1, but to change it to wherever your first term is, then paste it down all the rows containing terms.

=IF(EXACT(UPPER(MID(E1,2,1)),MID(E1,2,1))=TRUE,E1,LOWER(LEFT(E1,1))&RIGHT(E1,LEN(E1)-1))

Please note that if you don’t use Excel in English, you will need to translate the formula words. Also, if you have your system set to use decimal commas, replace the commas in the formula with semi-colons.

The reason the formula is so long is because it initially checks to see whether the second character is capped. If the second character is also capped, it assumes the term is an acronym, and therefore does not change the first character to lower case.

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Configuration de l’orthographe traditionnelle dans Word

Word vous souligne le mot “oignon”, ou il ne vous signale pas que vous avez oublié l’accent circonflexe sur le mot “parait”? C’est parce que par défaut Word utilise l’orthographe réformée de 1990.

Si, comme moi, vous préférez l’orthographe traditionnelle, ou c’est ce que votre client exige, il suffit de changer les options dans Word. Cette vidéo vous expliquera comment le faire.

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Una mala traducción comprensible, pero rectificable

El New York Times publicó, hace 4 días, un editorial en el cual instó el gobierno español a buscar una solución política a su conflicto con el gobierno catalán. El último párrafo dice en inglés:

“The best outcome for Spain would be to permit the referendum, and for Catalan voters to reject independence — as voters in Quebec and Scotland have done. Otherwise, Madrid’s intransigence will only inflame Catalan frustrations.”

La primera frase se tradujo o se interpretó erróneamente en varios medios de comunicación (El Periódico, Antena 3, El Confidencial, La Vanguardia, El Economista, ABC), que aseguraron, correctamente, que el editorial instaba al gobierno español a convocar un referéndum, pero que también aseguraron, incorrectamente, que decía que rechazar la independencia sería el mejor resultado para los votantes catalanes.

En realidad, la frase dice que el rechazo de la independencia por parte de los votantes catalanes sería el mejor resultado para el gobierno español; no dice cual sería el mejor resultado para los catalanes.

La mala interpretación de la frase es comprensible. Un lector que no es de habla inglesa fácilmente podría entender que dice “The best outcome…for Catalan voters [would be] to reject independence”, así que no creo que sea una manipulación. Pero pregunta a cualquier persona de lengua materna inglesa – sea a favor o en contra de la independencia de Cataluña – y te explicará que lo que realmente dice el editorial es: “The best outcome for Spain would be…for Catalan voters to reject independence”, es decir “El mejor resultado para España sería…que los votantes catalanes rechazaran la independencia”.

La razón por la cual esta última interpretación es la correcta, y por la cual hay que convertir “for + infinitivo” en “que + subjuntivo” lo explica muy bien Albert Pla en este artículo en Catalán en el diario Ara (ya sé que es un diario catalanista, pero si no te lo crees, puedes preguntar a cualquier persona de lengua materna inglesa).

Y si hubiera alguna duda (que no la hay, pero si la hubiera), esta interpretación la confirma la última frase: “Otherwise, Madrid’s intransigence will only inflame Catalan frustrations”. Aquí, la palabra “otherwise” significa “Si el gobierno no permite un referéndum” no “Si los catalanes no rechazan la independencia”. Si no fuera así, la última parte de la frase – “Madrid’s intransigence will only inflame Catalan frustrations” – no tendría sentido.

Como ya dije, la mala interpretación es comprensible. En cambio, lo que es inadmisible es que los diarios no rectifiquen.

Si yo descubriera que una traducción mía contenía un error grave como este, contactaría a mi cliente de seguida para pedir la rectificación. Los diarios tienen que hacer lo mismo: rectificar las traducciones o interpretaciones erróneas del editorial que todavía tienen publicadas en sus páginas web.

Y para evitar que eso vuelva a pasar en el futuro, podrán consultar a un traductor profesional en caso de duda sobre el sentido de un texto en una lengua extranjera. ¡Estamos a su disposición!

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Translator productivity – video 3: Verbatim Google searches

Google used to allow the plus symbol to be used for verbatim searches, forcing Google to search for exactly what we type in, rather than trying to guess what we might mean. When Google introduced Google+, they removed this usage of the plus sign, and informed users that they should use quotation marks instead. Only problem is, as shown in the video, this new method is not reliable.

In the video, I demonstrate how using the plus symbol and the quotation marks don’t work, and show you how to make sure you perform a verbatim search.

Link mentioned in the video for performing verbatim searches: Translator productivity – video 2: https://www.google.com/webhp?tbs=li:1

File to add Google verbatim searches to Intelliwebsearch: IWS Google verbatim.

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