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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: Speaking the Right Language Online

Re: Speaking the Right Language Online
Posted by: Pam Baker 2009-09-08 06:45:28
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A rose by any other name can raise quite the stink, making the act of localizing Web sites to fit foreign cultures all the more thorny. Even if the product is as sweet as ice cream, it's possible to leave a bitter taste in consumer's mouths. "Ben and Jerry launched their 'black and tan' flavor of ice cream without realizing that this phrase referred to British soldiers that were best known for their cruelty in the fight for Ireland's independence," Nataly Kelly, senior analyst and cultural communications strategist at Common Sense Advisory, told the E-Commerce Times.

Posted by: Evelyna 2009-09-14 15:35:53 In reply to: Pam Baker
"As odd as it may sound, the best way to ensure you lost nothing in translation is to translate the whole thing back to the original language."

While back-translation plays a crucial role in technical translation, where accuracy is of the utmost concern, it can lead to misunderstandings, waste funds and create a lot of frustration for both the translator and the client in the marketing and other fields where flow and linguistic appropriateness are very important. There are better means of QA in these fields, including choosing the right professional and ensuring that they work as a team with their editor in order to create a text that is accurate, appropriate for the target audience and consistent with the corporate image of their client.

Back translations
Posted by: marzolian 2009-09-08 11:23:49 In reply to: Pam Baker
I disagree with this statement:

"As odd as it may sound, the best way to ensure you lost nothing in translation is to translate the whole thing back to the original language."

Here's why.

The premise seems to be that translation is a black box with mysterious workings. To discover what problems might be caused by the first black box, a client can run the results through a second black box and compare them.

At best a backtranslation can be used as an educational tool, to inform the client about the bad impression made by the poor translation they paid for the first time. It has its place as part of a thorough review of translations used in cross-cultural marketing.

But as a translator for over 17 years, I no longer participate in them without discussing them with my client and asking why they are needed.

I reached this conclusion after my last request for a backtranslation. My customer had paid someone else to translate a brochure for one of their products into Spanish, and they wanted an English backtranslation of it.

Most of the Spanish brochure was just fine. The translator had misunderstood a few sentences and I understood the need to point them out. The translator was also a little bit inconsistent in his/her use of acronyms and abbreviations taken from the English document. Some were translated, some were left in English. If I had simply backtranslated them, the customer would not be aware of the inconsistency in the Spanish version.

But the rest of the English backtranslation was absolutely pointless. The English version already existed; in fact, it was posted on the client's web site. I could either copy the English directly from there, and save time; or I could translate it again. Then someone else would have to compare mine to the "official" English version, and explain to the client why most of the differences were unimportant.

In my opinion, my client would be better served if I had simply given my informed opinion (less than one page) than by my translation of the entire eight pages. So that's what I offered instead.

--- End forwarded message ---
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