Thoughts on Translation and Goodbye

Hi Readers,

For the past year and a half, I’ve been translating the Negonation blog from Spanish to English so that you can read the thoughts and opinions of the Spanish contributors. After thinking long and hard, I recently came to the conclusion that I could no longer dedicate enough time and effort to do this job well, so this is my ‘goodbye’ post.

I’d like to thank David Blanco and the rest of the Negonation team for giving me the opportunity in the first place and for giving me the space to learn and mature as a translator. I have learnt a great deal about digital signatures, authentication and application design and development as well as vastly improved my Spanish. Thanks very much guys. I’ll definitely continue to follow the blog and wish you all the best of luck in the future.

Before I go, I’d like to share a few thoughts about translation. Firstly I have to confess: I am not a professional translator; I am a programmer. I also do not speak Spanish natively. So, when I initially took on the job of translating the Negonation blog, I thought the hardest part would be understanding the Spanish posts, and I was right; at least initially. But soon, my level of Spanish improved and I began to realise that the real problem of translation is one of representation.

What do you do when a Spanish sentence doesn’t have an exact translation to English? Do you translate word-for-word and stay true to the original content or do you stay true to the original meaning of the content? For example, in Spanish the construct ‘tanto X como y…’ means ‘both X and Y…’ in English, but the literal translation is ‘As much X as Y…’. Guess which one I used at the start?

What about if the original post contains something that you think is unclear or could be better expressed? Well, I think that you have to use your ‘artistic license’ here, but you have to use it very carefully because yes, you are making it clearer for the end user but you are also reducing the quality of the translation. People want to read what the original author wrote, not what you think he/she should have written.

It is not surprising that the posts I found most simple to translate were those that dealt with computing concepts. I knew the vocabulary in Spanish and I write IT documents on a frequent basis in English. By far the hardest were the posts that dealt with legal issues. Complicated issues, words I’ve never heard before in Spanish (and in some cases their English counterparts!) and (with all due respect to the authors), something in which I am less interested.

I hope that my mistakes along the way have not impeded your enjoyment of this blog and I hope that you have learnt as much as I have from each of the posts.

Thanks very much for following the blog.

Kevin McCormack

By kevmccormack
Saved in: Blogging | 1 comment » | 17 April 2008

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[...] (the page you are looking at right now) is a timely translation of Negonation Blog Spanish. After the departure of our former translator, this blog is on-hold until we find a replacement. We are looking for a person who [...]

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