Translating quotations (from works previously published in English)
מפרסם התגובה: Anne McDowall

Anne McDowall  Identity Verified
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Local time: 21:02
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Nov 21, 2019

I'm currently translating an art book that includes a lot of quotations. I've been trying to trace whether these works have already been published, but even where they have been, I'm struggling to know the best way to deal with these. Despite having previously translated dozens of books (across a broad range of subjects, most not involving this problem), I'm still unsure of the protocol here. I feel I should be quoting the 'official translation' but no idea how I can get hold of this and, as I s... See more
I'm currently translating an art book that includes a lot of quotations. I've been trying to trace whether these works have already been published, but even where they have been, I'm struggling to know the best way to deal with these. Despite having previously translated dozens of books (across a broad range of subjects, most not involving this problem), I'm still unsure of the protocol here. I feel I should be quoting the 'official translation' but no idea how I can get hold of this and, as I say, there are lots from different sources. Also, how should I deal with quoting the source? If I can't access the original translation, I'll presumably need to include the French edition because of the page reference (even the French edition is itself a translation from another language)…?Collapse


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
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@Anne Nov 21, 2019

Here's a very similar discussion:
https://www.proz.com/forum/translation_theory_and_practice/300013-best_practice_for_translating_citations_eg_in_academic_paper.html


 

Anne McDowall  Identity Verified
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Thanks Samuel Nov 21, 2019

Thanks for the link, Samuel. The various posts here don't answer all my questions but certainly help some, and make me feel better about the fact that others struggle with this issue (and therefore it's not something that I 'ought' to know) and about calling the client to ask for advice.

 

Daniel Williams  Identity Verified
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It's complicated! Worth asking your client what they want Nov 21, 2019

I have come across this a few times, both in my academic career and doing marketing translations. For instance, I remember doing a website for a PR company that was full of quotations that were either so badly translated from English as to be unrecognisable, or for which I could find no evidence whatsoever.

With apologies for stating the obvious in the title, my instinct here would be to ask the client whether they want a translation of what the author has actually written, or wheth
... See more
I have come across this a few times, both in my academic career and doing marketing translations. For instance, I remember doing a website for a PR company that was full of quotations that were either so badly translated from English as to be unrecognisable, or for which I could find no evidence whatsoever.

With apologies for stating the obvious in the title, my instinct here would be to ask the client whether they want a translation of what the author has actually written, or whether they want the original quotation. Personally, my academic training (I have a Masters degree in European history) would prompt me to go looking for the original quotation and use that, especially if it is in English. However, with non-fiction in particular it's more complicated than that, because the author of your text may be relying on a translation of the original quotation (for example if they are a French-speaker working with a French translation of a source rather than the English original), and because non-fiction authors in particular have to interpret their sources and quote selectively from them to back up their arguments, so it's not impossible they might twist the original (or the translation they are working from) for effect. With that in mind, I think it can sometimes be better to translate what is in front of you rather than digging up the source text.

As for quoting sources, my impression is that source details should be given in their original langugaes and not translated. For example, for my other Masters dissertation (in translation/interpreting) I had to refer to a French translation of a text originally written in German so I could comment on the translator's approach, and I left all the references from the French translation in French rather than referring back to the German. Incidentally, in the commentary for the same translation I had to write a long explanation of how I had translated quotations from sources originally published in English and why this caused all sorts of problems, so if anyone has any clear advice on how to tackle this problem it would be very much appreciated!

[Edited at 2019-11-21 14:40 GMT]
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neilmac
 

Anne McDowall  Identity Verified
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@Daniel Nov 21, 2019

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Daniel. I don't have a master's degree and therefore, despite decades of experience as a publisher/editor/translator, I really don't know how to go about sourcing the original quote. Where I've managed it in the past, it's been a matter of trial and error, i.e. guessing likely words that might feature in the original and searching online, but this doesn't always work. Any tips here would be welcome. That said, it's not always going to be possible in any case,... See more
Thanks for taking the time to reply, Daniel. I don't have a master's degree and therefore, despite decades of experience as a publisher/editor/translator, I really don't know how to go about sourcing the original quote. Where I've managed it in the past, it's been a matter of trial and error, i.e. guessing likely words that might feature in the original and searching online, but this doesn't always work. Any tips here would be welcome. That said, it's not always going to be possible in any case, and, as others have pointed out, it can involve a huge amount of extra work. Regarding quoting sources, I agree that it makes sense to quote the original, particularly as the page number of the quoted passage is given, thanks for that confirmation. However, if the work has been published in English, would you also give publishing details for that, even if you have translated the quoted passage yourself rather than quoting the published translation? For example, after the French source '(Published in English as Title, trans. xx, City: Publisher, year.)' I don't know whether you've also read the other post that Samuel kindly directed me to, but it was suggested there that writing 'All translations by MY NAME, unless otherwise noted,' at the end of the first footnote related to a quotation that you've translated is a good way forward. Thoughts? Thanks again.Collapse


 

Daniel Williams  Identity Verified
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'All translations are my own unless otherwise stated' and other ways of hedging your bets Nov 21, 2019

I absolutely agree with adding the caveat 'all translations are my own unless otherwise stated' (or similar). As a rule, as long as you make clear what approach you are taking (i.e. whether you're translating what's in front of you or going back to original quotations) I would argue you have covered yourself against any accusations of distorting the text.

As for giving the details of English editions/translations alongside editions in other languages, I think this really depends wha
... See more
I absolutely agree with adding the caveat 'all translations are my own unless otherwise stated' (or similar). As a rule, as long as you make clear what approach you are taking (i.e. whether you're translating what's in front of you or going back to original quotations) I would argue you have covered yourself against any accusations of distorting the text.

As for giving the details of English editions/translations alongside editions in other languages, I think this really depends what the client wants. Personally my instinct would be not to include them in the bibliography itself, on the principle that the author should only quote what they have actually read. The only time I would 'anglicise' a title would be if I came across a source written in another alphabet (in my case, most likely to be a Russian source in Cyrillic) and even then the convention seems to be to transliterate the title into the Latin alphabet without translating it. However, your client might take a different approach depending on the target audience, so again I think this would be their decision in the end.

As I said, this really is complicated and I think in the end it boils down to giving the client what they want, but as a way of hedging your bets I think you could do worse than follow Jean-Pierre's Canadian suggestion (see the other thread) of adding the translation next to the original. In fact, I used this technique myself recently to translate a manual for some software where all the screenshots were in French and I had to make sure all the English menu items matched what the user would see on screen.

I hope that helps.
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neilmac
 

Tom in London
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Footnotes Nov 21, 2019

Yes, it's a lot of extra work. I recently translated an Italian PhD thesis that was full of citations from books that were originally published in English. I found many of these books online, sometimes as downloadable PDFs or using the Google "Look inside this book" thing, which sometimes enables you to even identify exact citations.

On occasion I have even bought books so that I could look for quotations that had been used in something I was translating.

When it comes
... See more
Yes, it's a lot of extra work. I recently translated an Italian PhD thesis that was full of citations from books that were originally published in English. I found many of these books online, sometimes as downloadable PDFs or using the Google "Look inside this book" thing, which sometimes enables you to even identify exact citations.

On occasion I have even bought books so that I could look for quotations that had been used in something I was translating.

When it comes to footnotes, I give the original English title of the publication but specifying that the Author was referring to the Italian edition. For example

Jane Jacobs: The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Random House, NY, 1961 (It. ed., Einaudi, Milan, 2009)

When you're quoting for a job like this you need to check the footnotes before naming your price !

[Edited at 2019-11-21 14:33 GMT]
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Agneta Pallinder
 

Anne McDowall  Identity Verified
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Thanks all! Nov 21, 2019

Very helpful comments, thanks all. In conclusion, I phoned the client who is happy with the solution of adding 'All translation are my own unless stated otherwise' in the first related footnote and for me to leave all sources in French without adding the English translation where this exists. Phew! A lot less work than feared for me, then!

 


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Translating quotations (from works previously published in English)

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