Thursday, 8 July 2010
English as she is spoke
I was just talking earlier about the resources the web offers for translation companies and translators promoting their services. Many translators blog to raise their profile and to contribute to their professional community. Some translators have elaborate websites (personal favourites include Linda Hoaglund's website and Roberto Crivello's site). I just came across another good website belonging to the Italian to English translator Wendell Ricketts of No Peanuts fame.
WR is waging a valiant rearguard action against translation into the second language. I especially enjoyed his collection of sins against English: Traducese (essentially an unfamiliarity with standard terms and collocations); Inglisc (a selection of translations from Italian to English produced by non-native speakers of English), similar hybrids 'Egliano', 'Italiese' and the international category Doesn't matter as long as it's cheap, which takes aim at 'translators' who charge clients for unedited work done using free translation software.
Fun reading for all the family. The question of translation into the second language is a fairly hot potato in translation circles. There's a clear need for client education in a market where translations into the second language are common even though there's no perceptible shortage of qualified native-English-speaking translators. In some language pairs, though, there is a shortage of such translators, and in that case creative compromises are made and specific working practices adopted. Of course quality control is always important.
I don't agree with WR that it is never possible to translate into an acquired language - I have known too many gifted translators translating out of their 'mother tongue' for that (well, at least two). I do agree that it is impossible to translate competently, for publication, into a language of which you do not have native-standard mastery of written expression. Unless your written English (or French, or German) is indistinguishable from that of a professional writer who is also a native speaker, you shouldn't be translating into the language for publication. (By 'publication' I mean anything that will be seen by the public, shareholders, customers, clients etc.). (Hint: almost nobody writes in their second language as well as they write in their first, with a very few honourable exceptions of the order of Samuel Beckett).
So WR's website is an entertainment and a cautionary tale in one.