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Blog - 2011

[The most recent one is at the bottom.]


Good rates and willing to work wholly flexibly (including weekends if required) to meet mentioned deadlines. I also consider other projects such as proof-reading; get in touch for details. I speak excellent English, as a long list of passed tests on my oDesk account will confirm. My account name on oDesk, by the way, is "gtrail".

6th May 2011



PACKAGES USED - I do my work using MS Office or Open Office. I have used MS packages for several years and currently use Word and Open Office on a domestic PC.
INFO ON PRICES - Standard rate: 50 Euros per 1000 words (for my primary market is mainland Europe). You can contact me for information on other rates.

6 May 2011



Freelance translation services (English, French, German) Please contact via email or call on 0560 1735 043
This number is dead. Call 01344 773948.

6th May 2011



I wonder how many "translator people" like me are fond of Amy Walker http://www.amywalkeronline.com/ - the "Connected" project woman.
She's most well-known for her "21 Accents" video on Youtube but she's also had a bash at comedy ("Preparing for a date" etc.) and can sing pretty well.

3rd October 2011




My last translation project was of a definite technical nature. Being specifications, there was a lot of grammatically incomplete stuff in it. It was short (no more than 2 lines) but I have started wondering if translating short grammatically incomplete stuff is actually always easier than translating longer grammatically complete stuff.

3rd October 2011



This is a re-post of my most audacious marketing move - a partial RHYMING translation in English of a French song. It's very easy for me to argue that it is faithful to the original.
http://www.dbalavoine.com/discographie/paroles/cha...
http://georgetraillechanteur.blog.co.uk/

3rd October 2011



I updated my main website http://www.georgetrail.com/ recently!

3rd October 2011



This was originally posted a very long time ago, but I applaud the attitude of Doris Paterson (Paterson Languages), for that time I did a translation job and, although she said that I made mistakes that needed to be sorted out, she added that there were still times when both my wording and hers worked. I still got paid the full amount at the end of the day. Thanks again, Doris, for understanding that there are times when two people will give different accounts of something but they are still required to figure things out even though they may be both educated speakers. Such is the translation industry. I'm very far from sloppy in my work but I still contend with this issue all the time.

3rd October 2011



Links to all my old blog comments related to my translation career:
BT Tradespacehttp://georgetrailtranslationservices.bttradespace.com/AllPosts.aspx;
Google Bloggerhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/0106249262578621104...
Enjoy.

3rd October 2011


If your job, like mine, demands impeccable English, you may find solace in how even the knowledge of English of people like me has its limitations. There, I said it.
I remember how, in Jackie Chan's autobiography, as a child he said he tried using orange juice and sweets as "bribes" to win the friendship of other children. Until then I thought "bribe" always had negative (underhand or criminal) connotation.

5th October 2011



This struck a chord with me as a translator: "Success can only be measured through understanding." http://www.alcinc.com/

5th October 2011



Lots of people just know that the mistake of writing "your" when you mean the abbreviation of "you are" is depressingly common. But I'm sure that people who do make that mistake all the time know the correct version deep down. I think that if you told them that "you're" is definitely the shorter version of "you are" (of all the words in English) and that "your" is the word that implies second person possession, as in "the hat belonging to you, your hat", they'd understand it straight away.
I agree that these are the people who write "I should of" and who write stuff like this, on the BBC's Have Your Say page when Steven Gately died.
"hi like steve from boyzone and he is good and i like every one"
"i cant beleave came down da stairs dis morning and turned the tv on to the news channel to find out the weather for the day but the head lines said stevephen gately has died it is a shock to hear that such young man has lost his life but he has left a lot of memorys behind and he is the best singer as well and ronan dont talk hes hot hot but fear well to stevephen"
I know it doesn't exactly "look good". But do you really think that they would allow such overly casual sloppiness to show in formal writing (you can consider this post a good example of what I mean by that)? My parents seem to think they wouldn't know the difference between that and proper English. I hope that's not true...

5th October 2011



“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Anthony Robbins
Who is Anthony Robbins?

5th October 2011



If I've ever doubted that I "think like a translator", I don't any more.
I've imagined a situation in which I'm sitting down and someone else approaches me, but I don't see them until they've sat right next to me and have greeted me. And when they greet me, I turn around surprised and say "who is this?", rather than "who are you?".
It's easy enough to argue that the former "works", but for me personally it's hard to imagine what anyone would say if not the latter without thinking. And therefore I somewhat feel like a non-native speaker of English, when I've said "Who is this?"

7th October 2011



I originally posted this elsewhere, on October 2011...
Well, it's October 7th, the day when "Johnny English Reborn" starts showing in cinemas in the UK. On one website I frequently visit, advertising for this is prevalent and conspicuous, and it encourages people to buy tickets online or, to put it in their own words, "click now to enroll".
I can see that that phrase is an advertising gimmick - everyone knows damn well it's not prompting people to "enroll" as a spy! But, as a translator, I do wonder how a non-native speaker of English would react, so to speak, to the phrase "click now to enroll". I imagine him/her ending up confused. You don't "enroll" or "enlist" in order to acquire tickets to see a film, although I suppose you can "register" tickets in this way. It does seem to me that he/she could end up with a skewed idea of what "enroll" means in the dictionary sense. I sympathise.

7th October 2011



http://www.larrasstranslations.com/
Their motto is, "We love language. And that shows." Yet in French they translate this as, "Les langues : notre amour toujours neuf" which, when translated literally, means "Languages: our love ever new." Was the motivation for using this particular phrase in French some French cultural aspect I don't know about?
I'm convinced that this is the case. It lies with the link between "love" and "new". It reminded of a phrase that went something like, "Everything I see, I see because I love." I can't seem to find its source on Google, but I did find it interesting.

7th October 2011



The best way to become a translator worth the name is to get practice translating poorly written documents (possibly ones that are bad translations themselves). True or false?
Response from Gunnar Lahr (Mila Sprachendienste): “Definitely true. And there are an awful lot of bad translations. Last week I saw an English website of my region (the Ore Mountains). One German headline was "Das Erzgebirge, wo Sie von Räuchermännchen begrüßt werden" (those little wooden figures that "smoke"). The English version was "The Ore Mountains where you are greeted by smokers"... “

7th October 2011



A lot of people, including those who aren't translators, will say (repeatedly) that good translation is about much more than replacing words with words. As a translator myself, I would say that this is probably at its most apparent with commonly used words and their different ranges of meanings and uses between separate languages.
My last project was a large legal document from German to English, where I kept seeing "vorgesehen", which would probably make many native speakers of English think of the English word "see", at least as a starting point ("pre-seen", "foreseen", or "something like that"). But when you enter this word on Google Translate - and we all know that machine translation software is notorious for being unreliable, through no fault of its creators - it translates it into English as "provided" or "scheduled".
That's the correct sense. But even then, legal document writers can be particularly prescriptive and rigid about the terminology used in what they write. Chances are they won't accept wording that is "good enough" even if they will openly concede that it is accurate. This source http://www.dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/vorgesehen.htm... shows how awkward it can get. "Im Vortrag vorgesehen" can mean "intended by the contract" or, as the source shows, it can mean "provided in the contract" or "required by the contract". But this means that, in a sense, "vorgesehen" can mean "provided" or it can mean "required", which is pretty much what you'd call opposite in meaning!
I need to take a break.

25th October 2011



How many people have invented words in a language other than their mother tongue? What about the French word "neppas" as a translation of the English "word" "innit"? I think it's clear that it is supposed to be a shortened version of "n'est-ce pas".

28th October 2011



Remembering what I heard Chris Cardell say in that presentation, I would say that my line of work is one that is not (or hardly) susceptible to influence by the clientele. Something like the music industry definitely is - for example, Katie Melua and Led Zeppelin are as different as chalk and cheese! For all the endeavour and initiative shown by artists everywhere, it is just too tempting to say that clients define the music industry as much as, if not more so than, the artists.
And anyone wanting to open a cafe or restaurant in the belief that it's relatively easy just because people will always have to eat, just knows damn well that there are so many different kinds of food, and that all sorts of culinary experimentation continues to be performed to this day.
In a variation on the same theme, I feel sorry for Lidl - it's referenced in humour as the kind of place that only losers buy from just because everything is so cheap. There's a Lidl in my home town and I think it's fine. But my point is that, for better or worse, its clientele seems to define its reputation more than its own staff.
Addition: The thing is, I just noticed that Weblations http://www.weblations.com specifically says that it does website translations. Is that a good idea? I would actually say yes - it suggests that the people who work for them are actually well-versed at writing common people's English when they translate, rather than merely knowing how to write articles full of jargon or anything overly complex when they translate, say, a technical manual or a court order.

2nd November 2011



There's bad translations, then there's trying to make sense out of nonsense. Some people apparently suggest that anyone who does the latter must have something wrong them, but I feel that trying to make sense of bad translations, which MIGHT in themselves be nonsense, is a good exercise for anyone who wants to what I do.

10th November 2011



There's a translation agency called Argos Translations according to whom "Radioukacz", a Polish word, is one of the hardest to translate in the world. I think they might have a point. I ran it through Google Translate and it offered nothing, no English translation, but "Radioukacz". Please let me impart that Google Translate is actually very good - certainly compared to the likes of Babelfish - probably because of its ties with all the information you can access via Google, and we all know how popular the website Google is!

14th November 2011



Another language-related thought from a professional linguist: I remember the time when I actually said "arriven" when I should have said "arrived", as "arriven" is not a real word. Yet "given" is. I'm just wondering how long it will be before someone says "I froak out" (or would you spell that "I froke out"?) rather than "I freaked out". Would they even consider the spelling?
PS Please believe that I've had a busy day.

7th December 2011



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Johnson Dr. Johnson wrote the first English dictionary. Even for a professional, self-employed linguist like myself, such a feat is impressive.
I have a good idea for a dictionary definition of "crisis of conscience" - one which I find to be "not subjective" in nature:
"I was wondering if there were any languages for which there is a phrase for 'I'm sorry' which you only say if you're a) meaning to atone for something you know that you shouldn't have done or b) expressing sympathy, while it is universally accepted that you are not at fault. Then I realised that I couldn't remember the last time that I said that I was sorry and meaning b rather than a - it was not very nice and it made me upset."
But even that definition is dependent on personal experience.

7th December 2011



If there's anyone I'd like to meet in connection with what I do for a living (besides customers!), it would include someone who speaks a supposedly "dead" language, like Mayan; ideally someone who could explain its revival. I think of Mayan in particular because you actually see it being used in the Mel Gibson film Apocalypto. I don't fully think of Latin as a "dead" language because you always see the Latin names of plant and animal species, and lots of people say things like "per se" and "ad hoc"" all the time.

15th December 2011



If you've ever read a contract (I know I have - I've translated plenty of them!) you probably think of the repeated use of "he" and "him" (as a demonstrative pronoun when referring to its parties) as "sexist language". Not the kind of sexist language that people associate with chauvinists and whatnot, but sexist all the same. Such is an example of the additional culture-related rules that translators are expected to observe.
So people who write contracts make a point of writing "he / she" and "his / her". But what if the gender of a given contract party is absolute? Would it still not be OK to use only "he" or "she"?
Added on 14th January 2014: “The last bit should read "But what if the gender of a given contract party is indeterminate? How about 'they'?"

15th December 2011



The Powerpuff Girls have their share of fans in France, even if they have different names: Belle ("Beautiful"), Bulle ("Bubble") and Rebelle ("Rebel") instead of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup respectively. I am aware that the French call them "Les Super Nanas", which I find a little odd as I've always known that "nana" means "girl / chick", but I thought it was only really used for teenage girls and maybe women, and certainly no-one as young as the Powerpuff Girls. You know what I think? I know I'm not French but my own French name for them is "Les Chochouettes" - a mixture of "chochote", meaning a sweet little girl who's clearly at prepubescent age, and "chouette", a slang word meaning "cool", "brilliant"... you get the idea.

15th December 2011



One of the most common criticisms in the translation industry today is that someone used translation software to help translate something, based on an acceptance that a translated article is of poor quality or just overly peculiar in places. But then, there are those that argue that translation software is "getting better" all the time. If you ask me, they have a point. I sometimes use Google Translate to help me out in my work, but strictly only for guidance. I always accept that I'm the one responsible for the choice of words at the end of it all. But Google Translate doesn't just "translate accurately" these days; I'm often impressed by how it offers to-English translation suggestions that are along the lines of the language used by the masses. Consider this scenario: if I was going to post a joke online about something that actually happened, it's not like it wouldn't make sense to begin it with "This actually happened." But I've resolved not to forget that I keep seeing "True story" in place of this time and time again. I am compelled to try to produce work that is not just academically and logically correct, but stuff that people will actually grasp easily and readily, and that's why I sometimes Google Translate for guidance. (It does seem ironic, doesn't it?)
Don't people in the translation industry prefer that work be proofread / checked by someone else anyway?

16th December 2011



I've heard it said that each language in the world embodies its own universe. Maybe I will always be confused by that idea to a certain extent; maybe not. But I have noted something in the German language which doesn't apply to my mother tongue of English that made me think of the same. It's to do with one of the tenses in German.
A proper translation of English "She said that Keith had gone to the party" in German would be "Sie hat gesagt, Keith wäre zur Party gegangen." I can't help noticing that, in the German translation, the auxiliary verb is subjunctival whereas this is not the case in English. It's as if the (hypothetical) person saying the German version exudes more prudence than the one saying the English version. Somehow, it's like the person saying the German version is allowing for the possibility of mistaken identity (consciously or otherwise - and this is just one example); but there is no reflection of that with the English sentence above. Not that I have any reason to believe that the Germans are particularly careful people.
An interesting idea to remember, or airy-fairy sophistry? If you quickly got bored reading this, then all I can say is that this is what a lifetime of studying and employing foreign language skills does to you.

16th December 2011



It would be nice if I could find an online dictionary for proper nouns. Like "Varsovie" in French; what it means is "Warsaw", the capital of Poland, but the thing is that "Varsovie" actually looks authentically French. Wouldn't you say that the average bilingual dictionary isn't full of proper noun entries?

24th December 2011

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