Translating "functional" proper names
Thread poster: Comunican

Comunican
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
Member (2005)
Catalan to English
+ ...
Jul 10

I'm interested in knowing what others think about translating names that could be considered to be "functional" - by which I mean the names of departments (government, university, business etc), culture-related sites, museums etc, and the names of research papers - where a direct translation is possible.
One option is to leave them in their original source language, and I appreciate that as proper names, they probably should be left as they are. However, I feel I'm doing the reader of my t
... See more
I'm interested in knowing what others think about translating names that could be considered to be "functional" - by which I mean the names of departments (government, university, business etc), culture-related sites, museums etc, and the names of research papers - where a direct translation is possible.
One option is to leave them in their original source language, and I appreciate that as proper names, they probably should be left as they are. However, I feel I'm doing the reader of my translation (my ultimate "client") a disservice by leaving them untranslated with the likelihood that they will not be able to understand what the department or paper or whatever actually is/does/means.
An alternative is to put the name in its source language and then its translation in brackets. But this makes for a laborious and somewhat ugly read.
Another option is to search the internet to see if there is an officially accepted English version, but when working on a long document with a lot of papers and university departments (as I am currently!), this is very tedious and time-consuming...
What do others think, please?
Thanks!

PS I'm sure this topic has already been covered, but I have not found it from a Proz search.
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Daniele Antunes
 

Daniele Antunes
Brazil
Local time: 21:37
Portuguese to English
+ ...
It's hard, isn't it? Jul 10

I'm sorry I don't have an answer. I'd find the same difficulty. So, I'm here to follow the topic and learn as well.

Comunican
Khalid Sabili
Lester Tattersall
 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 18:37
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It varies Jul 10

I really look at each one differently. Departments of governments, universities, etc. I usually translate without any further ado.

With museums, if it is a name that has no English equivalent, I may not translate it but put an approximate translation in parentheses behind it or, if it requires more explanation, in a footnote. For example, the 'Rijksmuseum' in Amsterdam is famous for its Rembrandt collection. I would not translate the name (not even in parentheses) but add that brie
... See more
I really look at each one differently. Departments of governments, universities, etc. I usually translate without any further ado.

With museums, if it is a name that has no English equivalent, I may not translate it but put an approximate translation in parentheses behind it or, if it requires more explanation, in a footnote. For example, the 'Rijksmuseum' in Amsterdam is famous for its Rembrandt collection. I would not translate the name (not even in parentheses) but add that brief information about Rembrandt in parentheses. A name like the 'Museum van Moderne Kunst' can easily be translated as 'Museum of Modern Art' without further explanation. The same with any 'Museum of...'. Needless to say, any translation or additional explanation in parentheses is only needed the first time the name appears.

Cultural or heritage sites, in most cases I would leave in their original name with an approximate translation in parentheses and/or a footnote if more explanation is necessary. A few hours south of where I live is a UNESCO world heritage site and museum named 'Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump'. Any attempt at translation would be inappropriate in this case; it requires a lengthy footnote and possibly one or more links to more information. In the further text it can be referred to as 'the museum' or 'the site'.

As you say, searching the internet for an equivalent would be a good first step and then just use common sense: as the end client, who does not know the source language, would you want to see a translation or more information? Does it add 'value' to the translation?



[Edited at 2019-07-10 15:52 GMT]
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mughwI
Christine Andersen
MollyRose
Sara Massons
Khalid Sabili
Josephine Cassar
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:37
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I always check the website Jul 10

I always check the website of the institution, because very often they do have official English names.

This may depend on which language you are translating from (and into), but I work from Danish to English, and try to use a name that readers can find on the Internet or elsewhere.

I keep a list of all the names I have found as a searchable file, which I am gradually transferring to Multiterm.
I also note the date last checked, because government ministries change
... See more
I always check the website of the institution, because very often they do have official English names.

This may depend on which language you are translating from (and into), but I work from Danish to English, and try to use a name that readers can find on the Internet or elsewhere.

I keep a list of all the names I have found as a searchable file, which I am gradually transferring to Multiterm.
I also note the date last checked, because government ministries change and are reshuffled as governments come and go. (I would have about 150 pages if I printed them out.)

Universities and colleges merge and reorganise too, and I try to note them systematically, although time does limit that exercise!
Museums and cultural institutions, or hospitals and their departments…
Trade unions and professional associations...

Keep the historic ones - they turn up in legislation, on CVs or in all sorts of places. The older versions can be quite hard to track down, or there may be a little section explaining previous mergers and reshuffles on their websites if you are lucky, but they don't stay for ever! That is why it is important to note and date them: it is worth the effort.

This is the sort of thing machine translation cannot do, and you can use it as a selling point for real human translation - and as a reason for asking a realistic rate...
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Philip Lees
Sara Massons
Andy Watkinson
 

Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Also always check institution's website Jul 10

Translating Swedish/English I have the same experience as Christine - very often (in fact nearly always) established Swedish institutions, whether government or private, have an English version of their name and an English - often truncated - website where the English name can be found.

So, that is what I use.

Unlike Christine I don't keep a record of such names, just look them up whenever needed.


Philip Lees
 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:37
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
It is even harder for Cyrillic languages Jul 12

If I take Tina's example, with Rijksmuseum, I can't leave it as is, I need to transcribe it which means that I need to check the Dutch phonology (quite challenging if you do not work with Dutch).

The good news is that for well-known museums, paintings etc. you can always find existing translations. It is not that easy in case of emerging artists or cultural events, though:(.


 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:37
Polish to English
+ ...
It varies case by case Jul 12

My language - Polish - includes lots of words that are not easily (or not at all) recognizable or comprehensible for guests from other countries. Having worked as interpreter for English or German-speaking persons, I recall cases that my clients were looking at our interlocutor's company logo and name, and asking me e.g.: "- OK, I know they are a metal-processing company, but what does their name mean, just word by word?" In such situation, you have no other solution than translate word by word.... See more
My language - Polish - includes lots of words that are not easily (or not at all) recognizable or comprehensible for guests from other countries. Having worked as interpreter for English or German-speaking persons, I recall cases that my clients were looking at our interlocutor's company logo and name, and asking me e.g.: "- OK, I know they are a metal-processing company, but what does their name mean, just word by word?" In such situation, you have no other solution than translate word by word.

For "Rijksmuseum", I've just used the Pons online dictionary. The NL-DE pair (the only available for that word) has shown "staatliche(s) Museum". Now that I know the meaning, I can translate into Polish for anybody in need of accurate translation. Besides, the pronunciation of this proper name also can be easily found on the net, which is always interesting to me.
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Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 02:37
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
It depends Jul 12

Comunican wrote:

I'm interested in knowing what others think about translating names that could be considered to be "functional" - by which I mean the names of departments (government, university, business etc), culture-related sites, museums etc, and the names of research papers - where a direct translation is possible.
One option is to leave them in their original source language, and I appreciate that as proper names, they probably should be left as they are. However, I feel I'm doing the reader of my translation (my ultimate "client") a disservice by leaving them untranslated with the likelihood that they will not be able to understand what the department or paper or whatever actually is/does/means.
An alternative is to put the name in its source language and then its translation in brackets. But this makes for a laborious and somewhat ugly read.
Another option is to search the internet to see if there is an officially accepted English version, but when working on a long document with a lot of papers and university departments (as I am currently!), this is very tedious and time-consuming...
What do others think, please?
Thanks!

PS I'm sure this topic has already been covered, but I have not found it from a Proz search.


It depends...
It depends on whether the institution (if it is an institution) already has its "own" official translation into your target language - a translation of its website/documentation, say. (In the case of a research paper or book, perhaps: does a translation of the whole document exist).
It depends on the purpose of your translation -- who your "ultimate client" is. In, let us say, a newspaper feature, there are much more elegant solutions than just shoving names in brackets. If the name comes in, say, a correspondence address, then best left alone.
It depends on what your client wants, in terms of house style, consistency, and their own preferences.
It depends...

I worked on a translation a little while ago which listed a lot of German research institutes. Most of them had English versions of their websites; some of these used a translation of their name, others kept their German name in the translations. My client and I had to decide whether to make my list consistent, e.g. using free translations of the untranslated names, or whether to stick with the "official" choices, even though that made the list look rather odd.


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:37
Member (2005)
French to English


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Schedule your queries Jul 13

It may be wise to begin by scanning the source document, using regex in the Studio search filter, and list query items. Standard tables can be devised for this purpose.

Ideally, as Communican stated, untranslated functional proper names should on first occurrence be reproduced in full, followed in brackets by the acronym if any, and the target-language translation.

The idea is to break the translation task down into its components, so as to adopt a structured approach,
... See more
It may be wise to begin by scanning the source document, using regex in the Studio search filter, and list query items. Standard tables can be devised for this purpose.

Ideally, as Communican stated, untranslated functional proper names should on first occurrence be reproduced in full, followed in brackets by the acronym if any, and the target-language translation.

The idea is to break the translation task down into its components, so as to adopt a structured approach, rather than interrupting the translation flow each time one encounters a query.

I hope this helps.
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Christine Andersen
 

Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 02:37
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Seconded Jul 14

Christine Andersen wrote:

I always check the website of the institution, because very often they do have official English names.



I do the same.

I remember something I read in The Economist style book many years ago, to the effect that they always described a person as they would like to be addressed.

Hence, Mr. Hussein (Sadam) or Mr. Gaddafi.

After all, it can't be considered incorrect, nor can a person or entity complain, when you adopt the same name they've chosen to describe themselves....


Christine Andersen
 

Steven Kenneth
United States
Local time: 20:37
New user
Functional Jul 18

I'd use brackets if I must. Proper nouns as such can be left out and not many need have a literal translation (I don't think names need their English translations). But, if the name can be explained, like in case of "Côte d'Azur", I'd go ahead and put French Riviera or Coast of blue in the brackets.

 


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